Taraji P. Henson Says Cookie is Taking Over Her Life

Taraji P. Henson

Since its debut in 2015, Empire has been one of the most talked about–and most watched–shows on primetime TV. And there’s one major reason it became such a hit: Taraji P. Henson.

Taraji P. Henson


Henson, who adeptly plays the role of cunning businesswoman and family matriarch Cookie Lyon, has been essential to the show’s massive success. Not only is Henson an amazing actress who delivers her lines with passion, wit, and impeccable skill, she also embodies Cookie’s personality–street smart with heart–perfectly. Henson slips so seamlessly into her role that many fans have a hard time separating Taraji from Cookie.

And she’s kind of over it.

“They grab me up like, COOKIE GIRL! And [I’m] like, I’m not Cookie. I’m Taraji and Cookie is not working right now. Please don’t call me Cookie,” Henson explained on KPCC’s radio show, The Frame.

While Henson acknowledged being on a hit show is a blessing, she also said it comes with a few serious drawbacks, too.

“She’s kind of taken over my life though…in a bad way,” Henson explained.

So what’s the downside of playing Cookie–you know, besides people on the street invading your downtime? Folks forgetting Henson’s name.

“My father worked hard to give me this beautiful Swahili name. It has a meaning,” she said. “It means hope. My middle name is Penda, which means love in Swahili, but people just want to call me Cookie.”

Henson continued, “I get that they’re excited. I get that they have love for Cookie. I get it! But this the third season now, and now Cookie is work for me.”

At the end of the day, the actresses confessed she wishes she could just be a regular person after she hangs up Cookie’s leopard-print fur coat at the end of the workday.

“[After] 18 hours of playing Cookie, I’m just trying to be Taraji and buy my bag of bananas at the local Gelson’s,” she explained. “And I’m still reminded that I’m Cookie.”

Listen to Taraji P. Henson’s entire interview on The Frame’s website.