Taraji P. Henson Has It All: Dishes on New Role, Wedding Plans and Almost Being Cast in Girls Trip

Taraji P. Henson flashing her rock
Image: Dia Dipasupil (Getty Images)

Taraji P. Henson has landed herself another leading lady role, and this time, it’s a rom-com. You’ve probably seen Mel Gibson in What Women Want back in 2000. Well, this version takes a #BlackGirlMagic spin and gives Henson the gift and the curse of hearing men’s inner thoughts, out loud.

When asked if she would ever want that power, Henson cackled, “I wouldn’t want that pressure! I have enough dealing with the voices in my own head!” But if she could hear the voice of anyone in her head? It would be her dog’s. Yes, as in her pet. “[He would be] like, ‘You know what mom? I really gotta shit and you’re not getting off the sofa.’ I really wanna hear his thoughts! Humans, you can kinda guess by facial expressions, with dogs, you just don’t know,” Henson laughs at her own idea.


Earlier this year, The Root attended a set visit in Atlanta for What Men Want. [Full Disclosure: Will Packer Productions paid for hotel accommodations for the set visit.] We gathered in a church for a wedding scene in the film, where Henson’s character’s powers cause her to speak out against the groom her friend (played by Tamala Jones) is marrying.

Henson walks into the room of all black journalists, wearing a pink bridesmaid gown and tossing around the bouncy tresses of a perfect bob and beaming (shoutout to makeup artist Ashunta Sheriff).

Even though this wedding is ultimately make-believe, it gave Henson an excited feeling because just a few days before we sat with her in that church, the actress got engaged to former NFL star Kelvin Hayden.

And yes, she’s already thinking about the wedding and part of it is because her character Ali is in one. Henson opened up about her own wedding plans saying, “Honestly, doing this scene is making me get the [makes gag face] ... I don’t know if I want all that. You know, it might just happen at the cookout and everybody’s like, ‘Oh, it’s happening now!’” The whole room cackled right along with her.


“For me, it’s not even about a spectacle. It’s about who’s around us. It’s about the circle, being around us so that when things go bad and we try to leave that circle, they go, ‘Not uh! Get back in there!’ So for me, that’s what is more about than what dress is she wearing?”

It was fun listening to Henson talk about her upcoming wedding. We all gushed right along with her as she beamed when one of the journalists congratulated her on her engagement and asked, “What do you think he thought of you when he first saw you?”


“I remember that moment actually. I asked him about it because to me it felt like the Red Sea parted, light came down, I heard, ‘Ahhhh!’ [laughs]. He said it felt sorta like that too. You know when the chemistry is there. It’s either there, or it’s not.”

And these to lovebirds have the type of chemistry that Stevie Wonder sings about. Which is probably why Henson has one of the legendary singers’ songs in her mind for her ceremony. When asked about her wedding song, Henson revealed that “Ribbon in the Sky” would be a lovely song to have sang at her wedding.


“My cousin, when I was little, got married, and she had a fairytale wedding and they sang that and I’ve been obsessed with it,” she said, flashing her million dollar smile.

Henson is all set up to “have it all.” Her charmed life is the type of thing women chatter about as if it can happen, but in reality, we’re all unsure whether or not it’s even possible. But here she is, living her best life. A new man, a new role and a whole new swag.


The Root: How does it feel for you to land this type of leading role in a romantic comedy?

Taraji P. Henson: This is the role I’ve been waiting for. As a single parent, moving to L.A., doing a half-hour sitcom was a dream role for someone in my position because I still had time to go home and do homework. It didn’t require those crazy hours, but as God would have it, I was always doing drama.


I’ve always been wanting to do this and I knew that I would have a lot to prove, like, ‘You don’t do comedy.’ I tried to put comedy in everything I do because in life, you laugh for a minute and you cry in the next.

The best dramatic actors, in my experience, are comedic actors because they add another layer. They don’t make it just about the deep, dark drama, they find little nooks and crannies where we can laugh and be human. I enjoy comedy. Thank you God, I’m not crying this summer! [laughs]

Taraji P. Henson in What Men Want
Image: Jess Miglio (Paramount Pictures)

TR: The last time we spoke was for Proud Mary and you talked about Girls Trip and how you were almost one of the Flossy Posse. How do you feel that’s changed how your career has gone?


TPH: I don’t think it changed in any way. I don’t think it helped or hindered me. I’ve always been the type that [believes] there’s enough work for everybody. Like I can’t do everything. I don’t want to do everything, I just can’t physically—Will, remember you called me for Girls Trip?

Will Packer had walked into the room and was snapping pictures for his social media. He answered Henson immediately: I did baby! You would have killed that thing!


TPH: That was Tiffany’s blessing. I don’t know what role he had in mind for me. But honestly, at the time, I felt like that was somebody else’s blessing. I felt like I had my girlfriend moment. When he came back to me, Will, he knew what I was looking for. I was looking for my number one position to shine as a comedic actress. Sometimes you say no to things or something doesn’t work out and God has a bigger plan. That’s how I move in life. Thank God for Tiffany.

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Danielle Young

Pretty. Witty. Girly. Worldly. One who likes to party, but comes home early. I got stories to tell. Prince (yes, that Prince) called me excellence. Achievement unlocked.