Taraji P. Henson Says Movies Shouldn’t be Labeled as ‘Black’ or ‘White’

She’s an award-winning film and television actress.

And Taraji P. Henson admitted that she isn’t afraid to use her voice publicly or through her powerful characters as she discussed the issue of labels in Hollywood in the October edition of Rhapsody magazine for United Airlines.

After critics were surprised that ‘black movie’ Hidden Figures could do well among vast audiences, the actress, 47, explained the need for new conversations and representation for people of color on and off screen. 

‘We need to change the narrative,’ Henson said. ‘Can we stop saying “black” and “white”? We get caught up on labels.

‘Whatever happened to good material? I don’t go to the theater and say, “Hmm, do I feel like seeing a white movie this weekend?””

Taraji starred as NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson in the 2016 film alongside Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae, which grossed $230.5 million worldwide and earned three Academy Award nominations.

Born to a department store manager and a janitor in Washington, D.C., the Golden Globe-winning starlet got her first big break opposite musician Tyrese in the 2001 film Baby Boy.

From there, her career propelled into various roles on television and in films, leading her to currently star as ex-con Cookie Lyon on the hit show Empire.

‘Cookie scared the life out of me,’ Taraji said. ‘I was like, ‘Do we need this character on TV representing black women? How is this going to help us?

‘But fear is a sure sign I need to do the role. If it doesn’t scare me, I don’t do it – that’s too easy.’

The way she portrays larger-than-life characters on screen is important to the mother-of-one.

‘There’s a fine line you have to walk with a character that’s so big,’ Henson said. ‘You have to play the truth, because if you play the bigness, then it’s a sassy black woman. We don’t need that. That’s empty. That’s not going to touch anybody.’

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