It was wonderful watching Taraji P. Henson speak openly with Gayle King about who she is and her experiences in the movie industry. She shared with the audience the meaning of her name and middle name which is of African Swahili origin. Taraji is “hope, faith” and her middle name is Penda which is “loved.” She gave the audience words of wisdom and encouragement. She shared with everyone when you have passion for what you believe in, you can make your dreams come true. She spoke how fearful she was of rejection in the movie industry. She stated “fear is powerful, if you let fear take control of you it will choke you, it could kill you, fear is that powerful if you given into it.” Taraji P. Henson overcame her fears and followed her passion. She told the audience it is important for her to take on a role that has meaning to her. She must believe when she accepts a role, she would give the role good service. Money does not drive her to take on a role. She has to believe in it. Taraji P. Henson had many television appearances before hitting the big screen. When she made her first breakthrough movie in Baby Boy, she felt in her heart Tyrese Gibson would become successful before her. It took sometime for her to finally achieve success. Tyler Perry was the first producer who gave her a quote to be on his movie ” I Can Do Bad All By Myself.” The money she received for being in that movie helped her to become a millionaire. She discussed her role as “Cookie” in Empire. She brought life into the character. She was skeptical at first when she received the script but as she read the part when Cookie came home from prison, this is when she knew she had to accept this new role. One of her desires is to have a successful movie overseas. She will make it happen.
Taraji P. Henson was authentic in sharing her experiences, thoughts, views, encouragements, and words of wisdom with the audience at the American Black Film Festival. She did not hold back. The audience appreciated her honesty. She made the audience laugh and listen.
by Lovely Haitian.