Taraji P. Henson is gushing over the uber-romantic way her former NFL pro boyfriend popped the question — and rightfully so!
The “Empire” star got engaged to boyfriend Kelvin Hayden, on Mother’s Day.
“I knew he was gonna pop the question because he all but told me himself. I just didn’t know when. That surprised me. He just did it,” Henson told the Associated Press Monday as she attended an annual event where Fox promotes its new TV lineup to advertisers.
She dished to Entertainment Tonight that the proposal, which earned Henson a huge rock on her finger and “surprised the heck out of everybody.”
“I think he was trying to wait, and he couldn’t wait, ’cause he had the ring, and I guess it was burning a hole in his pocket,” Henson says. “And just the weight and the pressure of keeping the secret, he just couldn’t do it. And so I told him — I’m in Atlanta right now, filming ‘What Men Want’ — and I told him, I said, ‘I’m gonna come home for Mother’s Day,’ and he said, ‘Come home!’ And I noticed the look in his eyes, but I didn’t put it together.”
Hayden, who played for the Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts, took Henson to the restaurant where they had their first date.
“I didn’t put it together until we went into the party room after we ate, and I saw a violinist, ’cause he was trying to say it was his friend’s birthday — which it was, on Friday — ‘Oh, Ronald’s gonna have a little get-together in the back room.’ And I was like, ‘Aw, that’s perfect. We’ll already be there.'”
Henson continued to put two and two together when she and her 2007 Super Bowl champ man head to the back room and Hayden gets down on one knee.
“And then the river of tears just started and my lashes ended up on the floor,” she says.
The actress told the AP she was introduced to Hayden by her makeup artist three years ago.
“She was like, ‘You need to go out. You need to meet somebody. You’re too fly. You’re too amazing.’ I was like, ‘I don’t know.’ She’s like, ‘You’re not gonna meet him at home. You need to go out.'”
The makeup artist arranged a party full of eligible bachelors for Henson to mingle with, but the star demanded to see photos first, and became enamored with Hayden.
“I was like, ‘Wow, something about his eyes are so gentle.’ And you know how they say you can fall in love at first sight from a picture? That’s exactly what happened,” she recalled. “So when we got to the actual event, I met everybody, I shook all the other guys’ hands and I literally was looking for him and when he walked up to where I was it was like people parted like the Red Sea, a light came on, I heard angels and he reached out to shake my hand and we danced and we talked and we were hanging out every day since.”
Henson says her “Empire” co-stars are thrilled with the news.
“Jussie [Smollett] came down to my room and screamed and did backflips,” she said.
Terence Howard says Hayden must be special for Henson to choose to be with him.
“I’ve never known any person that she’s worked with that’s ever been able to go on a date with her, you know,” Howard said. “She’s that secure about maintaining her integrity, so for her to let Kelvin in, I’m like, ‘Wow. That’s a big move. That’s a big move right there for her.'”