Taraji P. Henson: I Didn’t Want to Make Cookie a Neck-Rolling Caricature

Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele
Taraji P. Henson
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Taraji P. Henson put a lot of thought into playing Cookie Lyon on Empire because she didn't want the character to be stereotyped as just another African-American working-class woman whom people could disregard or prejudge. 

During an interview with People magazine, Henson explained how there's a lot more to Cookie's larger-than-life personality, and she took the time to parse that and bring it to the screen. 


"She's such a powerhouse, so I was very delicate with her," Henson said. "She can be really bigger than life, so I took very good care into making her someone that people could identify with—a real person, not just a caricature who could be sassy and roll her neck."

She also spoke about how thrilled she is to have the opportunity to act on television, since she didn't see a lot of actresses who looked like her when she was a child; nor did she see fully developed characters like Cookie portrayed authentically. 

"Growing up, it was rare for me to see a woman that looked like me that inspired me," Henson said. "So it was very important for me to portray Cookie. I didn't want to [screw] it up." 

Henson does give a depth to Cookie that allows viewers to get a sense of her vulnerabilities and what fuels her: family. 


For more of black Twitter, check out The Chatterati on The Root and follow The Chatterati on Twitter.

Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.


Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter