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‘COOKIE WAS HIDING HER DAUGHTER LORD’: Taraji P. Henson Set to Join the Cast of ‘Abbott Elementary’ as Janine Teagues’ Mother

Taraji P. Henson is coming back to television screens sooner than later, and fans are excited about the former “Empire” actress’ return.

It was confirmed over the weekend at the PaleyFest L.A. that Henson is the latest celebrity to join the ABC sitcom “Abbott Elementary.” The series already has racked up a number of awards and featured some major guest stars.

The 52-year-old will play Vanetta, the mother of Quinta Brunson’s character, Janine Teagues, in an upcoming episode titled “Mom.” She reportedly shows up asking her daughter for help.

Fans seem to get more excited after a behind-the-scenes photo of Brunson and Henson was shared by the “Abbott Elementary” Twitter page.

Throughout the comedic series, viewers have witnessed Janine struggle with obvious mommy issues. In different episodes, fans have learned that Janine’s mother is unaffectionate, never taught her how to cook and rarely answers her phone calls or text messages. 

This is one of the main reasons why Janine looks up to the old-school kindergarten teacher, Barbara Howard, portrayed by Emmy Award winner Sheryl Lee Ralph.

Once news about Henson joining the on-screen family was revealed, fans couldn’t contain their excitement under the “Abbott Elementary” comments section on Instagram. 

“Everything I didn’t know I needed.”

“I know Taraji is going to serve up some messy self involved in mama drama lol. Can’t wait!”

A few fans even jokingly suggested that Brunson was the long-lost daughter of Henson’s character on “Empire,” Cookie Lyon.

“Don’t tell me Janine Teagues is really Janine Lyon.”


During the 11th episode of the second season of “Empire” titled “Death Will Have His Day,” it was revealed that Cookie Lyon and her husband Lucious Lyon — portrayed by Terrance Howard — were expecting a baby girl way before she gave birth to their three sons. 

However, tragedy struck, and Cookie sadly suffered a miscarriage. This emotional reveal came after Cookie’s oldest son Andre, portrayed by Trai Byers, and his wife Rhonda, portrayed by Kaitlin Doubleday, lost their unborn son after Rhonda was pushed down a flight of stairs.

Henson’s portrayal of Cookie Lyon won her a Golden Globe in 2016 for Best Actress in a Television Series Drama. As she walked up to accept her award, the 52-year-old gave out cookies to several celebrities in the audience.

When she finally reached the podium, Henson jokingly noted the irony of playing a variety of monumental characters throughout her time in Hollywood and finally receiving recognition after playing an ex-con who sold crack. “Empire” ended in 2020 after six seasons.

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