Empire star Taraji P. Henson is everywhere right now, including the cover of W Magazine‘s August 2015 issue, available on newsstands July 7 and digital editions July 14.
Inside, she gets candid about her role of a lifetime as the stylish and outspoken matriarch of FOX’s hip-hop hit, Empire, which will return for its second season on September 23.
Hair for the shoot is styled by Shay Ashual at Tim Howard Management, with makeup by Yadim for Maybelline and manicure by Michelle Saunders for Essie at Celestine Agency. See photos and interview snippets below.
Her initial reaction to the script:
“Hip-hop—dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. But then I started to think, Cookie is going to piss so many people off! She hits her son with a broom; she talks back. Clearly, this was a challenge.”
Her perceptions of her character Cookie:
“[Fans] want Cookie. They see her heart. They see her intentions. And they love her style—her style is 17 years behind the fashion curve, which makes the clothes a character on the show. As Cookie grows, you’ll see her fashion grow. And people love that—she’s a work in progress. The only thing that never changes is her spirit: To me, Cookie is living, breathing, walking truth.”
“Cookie is bold and crazy, and she loves the struggle. She started from nothing, and now she’s at the top. In that way, we’re alike: Cookie is the American Dream.”
On the criticism of Cookie as a poor role model:
“When I hear that Cookie is a bad representation of black women, I don’t get involved. Maybe Cookie makes you uncomfortable because she reminds you of yourself. People miss the bigger picture when they start judging.”