CONFIRMED: Taraji P. Henson is...

April 04, 2016 7:31 AM

Monya Fleming

Senior Contributor

Facts About "Empire" Star Taraji P. Henson You May Not Know! (PHOTOS)

Fans of "Empire" know Taraji P. Henson as the naughty Cookie Lyon on the hit show. She has also starred in "Baby Boy", "Hustle and Flow", and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." 

But we have a few facts you might not know about the beautiful actress!

Taraji is the mom to one son, Marcel, who was born in 1995. The father of her son was tragically murdered in 1997. The actress says Marcel is the most important thing in her life.

Henson said of her son, "My son is 20, so he grew up in this industry with me. Even if I had 5 A.M. calls, I'd get up and cook him pancakes, eggs, and sausage and leave it in the microwave for him all wrapped up. The crazy thing is that my career really grew as he was growing. When I was first starting out, no one knew who I was, so that gave me time to go to all of his games and PTA meetings."

Henson is not just a pretty face! She studied engineering and science at the University of the District of Columbia and the University of North Carolina A&T before switching majors and obtaining a degree in theater arts. It's interesting to note that her nickname in college was Cookie, her current character's name on "Empire."

Taraji did not start acting until she failed several precalculous classes. The star told Vanity Fair in 2009, "I auditioned for a performing arts high school, didn’t get accepted, and I thought that meant I couldn’t act. So I never acted again until I failed precalc in college. I decided I was going to try Electrical Engineering. That sounded good . . . So, I failed, and thank God I did because it forced me to study what I really wanted to, and that was acting."

Henson worked at the Pentagon to support herself while attending college at Howard University. She worked at the Pentagon during the day and as a dancing/singing waitress on a dinner cruise at night.

One of Henson's best friends is Mary J. Blige, who is a huge fan of the star's cooking.

Taraji said, "I love to cook and look for recipes all the time. I make lasagna, great collard greens, and I do an amazing Thanksgiving turkey. My signature dish is chili. I make two types: red chili and a white-bean chicken chili. Every time Mary J. Blige comes to town, she requests it. She'll say, 'Taraji, are you going to make that chili?' And when she's out of town, she'll ask me to freeze a bag and her assistant will come pick it up!"

Taraji has previously posed for PETA and feels strongly about animal rights. She previously stated, "I don’t think a living being should suffer for the sake of fashion, period. End of story… You don’t have to kill an animal just because you want to be hot and fly. And I really stand by that."

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