If You Love Cookie on “Empire” — More From Taraji P. Henson

Posted on March 8, 2015 at 3:41 pm

The breakout hit of the television season is the steamy, soapy, musical melodrama “Empire,” and the breakout star (long overdue) is the fabulous Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon, just out of prison after 17 years and determined to get back everything she has lost or missed, including the recording company she founded with her now ex-husband Lucious, played by Terrence Howard.

As the show concludes its season later this month, now is a good time to stock up on some of Henson’s earlier work as we wait for “Empire’s” second season.

Henson and Howard first worked together in Hustle & Flow. She was the one who insisted that he be added to the cast in “Empire” because she knew their chemistry was right for Cookie and Lucious.

Henson was nominated for an Oscar when she played the adoptive mother of Brad Pitt’s character in The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.

One of my favorite Henson performances is in the underseen Talk to Me, based on the real-life story of Washington D.C. disc jockey Petey Green. Henson played his flamboyant wife, rocking a miniskirt and an enormous Afro.

She starred in I Can Do Bad All By Myself as a singer who has no interest in taking responsibility for the children left to her care.

Related Tags:



My Letter to the Washington Post About Empire’s Costume Designers — And My Appearance on Motley Fool Money About Movies and the Oscars

Posted on February 14, 2015 at 12:00 pm

I’m delighted that the Washington Post printed my letter about the costumes in the terrific Fox series “Empire.” Robin Givhan’s article about the way the show’s costumes define the characters was outstanding, but it omitted one important detail:

Copyright Fox 2015
Copyright Fox 2015

I was delighted to read Robin Givhan’s insightful comments on the brilliant use of costume to illuminate character and context in the TV show “Empire” . But I’m sorry that she left out the names of the brilliant costume designers who selected those iconic looks.

Every choice, from Hakeem Lyon’s gold chain to Lucious Lyon’s pocket square to Cookie Lyon’s leopard-print, skin-tight minidress, was made by Rita McGhee and Paolo Nieddu. Costume designers play an essential role in defining characters and telling the story. When their work is recognized, their names should be included.

And thanks, as always, to the Mac Greer and Motley Fool Money for inviting me on their terrific podcast. We even managed to make some Oscar predictions.

Related Tags:


Media Appearances

Premiering on Fox This Week: Empire with Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson

Posted on January 5, 2015 at 3:56 pm

One of the most exciting new televisions shows of the season is “Empire,” premiering on January 7, 2015 on Fox. It is part “King Lear,” part “Godfather,” part “Lion in Winter,” part soap opera, and set in the world of hip-hop music. Terrence Howard plays a drug dealer turned music mogul named Lucious Lyon who has learned he has ALS, with a life expectancy of just a couple of years. He must decide which of his three sons will inherit his business. One son has the business expertise. One has the musical talent. But he is gay, which makes Lyon uncomfortable. The youngest may be the most capable but he is immature and arrogant.

Lyon’s wife, Cookie, took the fall for their drug dealing and has been serving a prison sentence. As the series starts, she is released, furious and determined to make up for the years — and money — she lost. Henson and Howard had sizzling chemistry in “Hustle and Flow,” and it will be a treat to see them setting off against each other. With Lee Daniels (“Precious,” “The Butler”) and Danny Strong (“Game Change”) writing the series, there is sure to be plenty of flinty dialogue to help with the sparks. And, like “Glee” and “Nashville,” each week will have musical numbers (produced by Timbaland) that will be available on iTunes.

Related Tags:


Musical Race and Diversity Television
THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2024, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at Rogerebert.com, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik