Taraji P. Henson has landed the role of a hitwoman in the upcoming thriller “Proud Mary,” firmly placing her outside of her famous “Empire” role of Cookie Lyon — much to her delight.
The Screen Gems-distributed movie will begin production in April, according to Deadline, and will see Henson’s character have her contract-killer lifestyle turned upside down when a young boy rouses a maternal instinct she didn’t know she had.
While speaking to Entertainment Weekly last year, the talented thespian explained why she enjoys making movies.
“I love features ’cause it’s a chance for everybody to remember, ‘She’s a character actress, not just Cookie,'” Henson said. “I haven’t played a psycho character yet. … I want to really disappear. I have so much to do.”
Despite the fact that Henson has been in the industry for over two decades, her role on “Empire,” which garnered her her first Golden Globe Award in 2016, may have finally given her enough star power to be offered the plum big-screen gigs.
Henson’s statements to EW speak to the importance of Black actors striving to expand beyond the stereotypical roles usually offered to them. A 2015 video by Upworthy featured Black actors explaining how frustrating it is for them not to be offered roles that speak to the truth of their everyday lives.
“I went to conservatory and they teach you what’s called American Standard Speech,” actor Jeffrey A. Joseph said. “Then, you get out of school … and the casting director just wants you to say, “I don’t even know what you talkin’ ’bout, man!’ ”
Henson herself spoke about how casting directors’ limited perception of Black people has affected her offerings, too. In her autobiography “Around The Way Girl,” the actress said she lost the part of a Russian stripper in the film “St. Vincent” to white actress Naomi Watts.
“Time and again, I’ve lost roles because someone with the ability to greenlight a film couldn’t see Black women beyond a very limited purview he or she thought ‘fit’ audience expectations,” Henson wrote.