Why Taraji P. Henson Is Hollywood’s 2019 “It” Girl

Taraji P. Henson – currently gracing cinema screens in What Men Want – is widely known for portraying Cookie Lyon on Fox’s Empire. Earning her breakout role starring across Tyrese Gibson in 2001’s Baby Boy, Henson is finally landing the roles and gaining the recognition she has long deserved.

Taraji P. Henson
Taraji P. Henson | Getty Images

With a few major roles and Oscar-worthy characters on the horizon, Taraji P. Henson is shaping up to be Hollywood’s 2019 “It” Girl. While What Men Want did not open to critical acclaim, according to Rotten Tomatoes, Taraji P. Henson is strong enough to prove that a “gender-swapped remake can work.”

Up next: Taraji P. Henson as Ann Atwater in ‘The Best of Enemies’

Taraji P. Henson is set to star in two upcoming films: Coffee and Kareem and The Best of Enemies. While Coffee and Kareem is still in pre-production, filming on the Best of Enemies is complete, and the movie is set to premiere April 5, 2019.

In The Best of Enemies, Taraji P. Henson plays real-life civil rights activist Ann Atwater. Based on the book titled The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South, the story follows stay-at-home-mom-turned-integration-activist as she battles against KKK leader C.P. Elliot (Sam Rockwell).

Given that biopics and films based on true stories tend to fare well at the Oscars – let us not forget Bohemian Rhapsody, The King’s Speech, Gandhi, etc. – it’s likely that Taraji P. Henson will receive an Oscar nomination for this role. If her performance outshines the others in her category, she may go home with her first Academy Award.

Netflix Original: ‘Coffee and Kareem’

Coffee and Kareem, though likely to receive a 2020 release date, will be filmed and promoted throughout 2019; thus, it will serve as another outlet to put Taraji P. Henson on everyone’s radar.

Coffee and Kareem focuses on a Detroit cop who tries to clear his name with help from his girlfriend’s young son, according to IMDb. The Netflix original will star Taraji P. Henson as the girlfriend and Ed Helms as the cop.

Ed Helms, most widely recognized for playing Stu in The Hangover, tends towards comedic roles – The Hangover, Vacation, We’re the Millers. Thus, there’s much anticipation surrounding his upcoming dramatic performance. However, he’s the subject for another article.

Taraji P. Henson’s journey to stardom

Taraji P. Henson studied acting at Howard University, and she made several small TV appearances before landing her breakout role in Baby Boy.

While Tyrese Gibson’s career skyrocketed soon after his performance in Baby Boy, Taraji. P Henson would not be so fortunate. However, her subsequent performances throughout the early 2000s would lead to her Oscar-nominated role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Four years after Baby Boy premiered, Taraji P. Henson played a sex-worker in Hustle and Flow. Henson received critical praise for her performance in Hustle and Flow and took home the Black Movie Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role.

In 2008, playing the single mother of a disabled child in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Henson earned her first Oscar nomination, as well as SAG and Critics Choice nominations.

Soon after Benjamin Button came The Karate Kid and Date Night, both of which premiered in 2010. Once she landed Think Like a Man (2010) and Think Like a Man Too (2014), doors started opening all around her.

Henson earned her lead role in Empire in 2015, and the rest is, well you know the saying. Taraji P. Henson has done her time in the industry; it’s her turn to shine, and it’s her turn to take home the industry’s most desired prize.