Chatting with Glamour, the entertainer opens up on those who wrote her off when she got pregnant in college as well as being recognized with an Emmy nomination and the connection people have with her character Cookie. Henson’s interview with Glamour comes as she graces the cover of the publication’s October issue.
Viewers can catch season two of “Empire” when it premieres at 9 p.m. Sept. 23 on Fox. Highlights from Henson’s Glamour interview are below, via TheJasmineBrand.com:
On her Emmy nomination:
[Before the nominations] everybody kept saying to me, “Have you cleaned your mantel off?” I said, “Everybody chill.” I knew the day was coming, but I didn’t watch the nominations. I was getting ready to go to work. The phone rang, and it was my manager. I was like, “OK, he’s clearly not calling with bad news.
Why people connect with her character Cookie on Empire so much:
She is everybody’s alter ego. She crosses cultures. [Last year] we went to Paris and screened the pilot for a thousand people. Lee Daniels [the series’ co creator] brought me onstage. The audience stood up on their feet and clapped. I cried because, for so long in Hollywood, I’ve been told that black women don’t do well overseas, that they can’t open a film overseas. That moment for me was the best moment of my life. That’s better than any trophy, any award, any nomination. You know how they say music can heal the world? I feel that way about art in general.
Empire on being a sign of progress for African Americans in Hollywood:
I think we are making strides in Hollywood. It’s the world that I’m more concerned about…. My son grew up in a pretty much all-white situation and went to the best of schools. I saw the change when he got older and started to get that life is different for him [as a black male]. He came home crying, like, “Why do white people hate us? Why can’t we fix this?” This can be fixed. I’m gonna try my best to make change.
Balancing motherhood and Hollywood:
When I got pregnant in college, people said, “This is it for her.” But I did not stop. I never missed a class. I was in the school musical when I was six months pregnant—we just made the character pregnant. My mother swears Marcel came out doing the dance; he had learned the choreography. When I graduated, I carried my son across the stage. I wanted to be an actress; I moved out to L.A. with him.
People were like, “Are you crazy, moving to California with your son?” My father was like, “Leave him home.” I said, “I can’t leave my son at home.” [And eventually] my father said, “That’s your baby. That’s your blessing. He’s going to be your strength.” And you know what? He was. I didn’t have time to go to the club to “network.” That’s B.S. No business deals go down at the club. So I didn’t get caught up in that. I had a mission. I had to make my dream come true. If I didn’t, what was I proving to my son?