Taraji P Henson | Early Life, Career, & More

Taraji P Henson

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Hidden Figures actress Taraji P Henson had one message for the entertainment industry: when you work hard and stay true to your goals, nobody can stop you from doing what you love.

Early Life

Taraji P Henson was born and raised in Washington D.C., where she lived with her loving parents until their divorce. She credits them both, as well as her grandmother, for giving her the moral support she needed for enduring hardships in her young and adult life alike.

With a determined spirit, she graduated from Oxon Hill High School in Maryland after being rejected from drama school. She then studied electrical engineering at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University for a short period of time before failing precalculus.

Staying committed to getting her college degree, Taraji transferred to Howard University to study theatre. Despite having to work as a secretary at the Pentagon and an entertainer on a cruise ship, she managed to secure a flattering Triple Threat Scholarship.


As an educated actor, dancer, and singer, but also a single mother to her son Marcell, Taraji moved to Hollywood in pursuit of a movie career. It took her a while to land her first small-screen role, after which she appeared in a number of TV shows, including ER.

It wasn’t until 2001 that then thirty-year-old actress got her first breakthrough role in the movie Baby Boy. From then on, Taraji has worked on numerous high-profile projects in both TV and film and received just as many accolades from critics and the industry.

The Academy gave her an Oscar nod for her work in The Curious Case of the Benjamin Button in 2008. Taraji was also nominated for the SAG Award and Primetime Emmy. In 2015, she was the first African-American woman to receive a Critic’s Choice TV Award.

For her fierce portrayal of Cookie Lyon in the Fox drama series Empire, Taraji earned herself a Golden Globe as well. In 2016, she won a SAG Award for the critically acclaimed film Hidden Figures.

In the News

The father of Taraji’s son Marcell was the actress’ high school sweetheart who was unfortunately killed in 2003. She’s been engaged to former NFL player Kelvin Hayden since May 2018. Taraji is also a women’s rights advocate and a supporter of the LGBT community and PETA.

For more hot gossip on Taraji P Henson, stick around The Shade Room!


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