‘She Gave Me a Second Life’: Taraji P. Henson Reflects On Her ‘Empire’ Character Ahead of Final Season Premiere

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With the sixth and final season of “Empire” beginning on Sept. 24, Taraji P. Henson explained what her character on the show Cookie Lyon has meant to her throughout the years. She also talked about how the character will live in the minds of others after the show is officially over.

“Cookie has meant so much to me,” the 49-year-old told Entertainment Weekly. “She gave me a second life in this industry and made me a pop star in my 40s. Cookie was a movement. Long after I’m gone, people will be talking about Cookie.”

Taraji. P. Henson talked about what her “Empire” character Cookie has meant to her before the start of the show’s sixth and final season. (Photo: Dia Dipasupil/WireImage via Getty Images)

Henson also talked about what’s in store for Cookie in season 6, after she decided not to go on the run with Lucious Lyon played by Terrence Howard in the season 5 finale.

“Everything has been about doing something for her family, for her husband, for her sons. When has Cookie ever done anything for her?” she asked. “The love is not lost, but the romance is.”

Before “Empire,” Henson clearly made a big name for herself starring in films like “Baby Boy,” “Hidden Figures” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” which got her an Oscar nomination.

But earlier this year, she admitted to not liking that new level of fame. In fact, the Howard University alum said it led to depression, because she missed doing regular things like going to the store on the weekends.

“I don’t like it,” said Henson about fame. “I’m an only child, and I enjoy spending time with myself. I’m OK with that. I miss waking early Saturday morning and going to Target. I can’t do that anymore. ”

“I was in Bed Bath & Beyond, and this guy followed me around the store the entire time, so that ended that,” she added. “I get up to go walk my dog, and I realize I can’t do that. So even just walking my dog, I can’t do that. So it’s depressing.”

In her chat with Entertainment Weekly, Henson also said she’ll miss her former “Empire” co-star Jussie Smollett, who won’t be a part of season 6.

The announcement was made after Smollett was accused of lying about being attacked in Chicago and charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct. Those charges were dropped in March, which caused massive outrage. The actor was also absent in the last two episodes of season 5.

“We miss him immensely,” said Henson who played Smollett’s mother on the show. “As a mother in real life, as a mother in television, I lost one of my babies and that hurts.”

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