Some of us know how it all started…Taraji Henson was having a Skype audition with Empire’s producer and she asked who was going to be the male lead. When she was told Wesley Snipes, she said, she won’t be in the series if Terrence Howard was not playing the lead role. Then she hung up!
That bold move has brought about the epic award-winning series that is FOX Channel‘s Empire today.
In this interview with BN’s Jadesola Odujole, Terrence and Taraji give details on their reason for coming to Africa, their thoughts on Typecasting in Hollywood and much more. We also get to learn more about Taraji’s Upcoming book.
Fun fact: They can actually finish each other’s sentences!
How has South Africa been so far?
Taraji: It has been very emotional for me, I’ve felt like Michael Jackson and I know it’s not just love for Empire but it’s a pent-up love. They’ve been loving us for a long time. My visit has been long overdue. I’ve never been to South Africa. I’ve been conversing with my fans on Twitter and Instagram for years and I’ve been promising them that I’ll be here. I’m here and I’m so happy.
Terrence: A large percentage of our fan base is Nigerian so we’ll definitely be coming there at some point. One of the places we were trying to get to is Nigeria, but we’ll save that for another trip. Taraji just traced some of her heritage to Cameroon and I just found out that I’m 9% Nigerian and 21% Malian, so we’ll definitely try to get to as much places as possible.
Who are your favourite Nigerian actors?
Taraji & Terence: David Oyelowo, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sophie Okonedo and so many more! We watch a lot of Nigerian’s work as much as you watch ours because that’s how we grow as actors.
Do you think Movie Directors still cast Black American Actresses in stereotype roles even after all these years?
Taraji: They still do that but it’s up to the actresses to control that. When I first acted in Baby Boy, every other role after that was about the “Ghetto baby mama” but I was like I’ve done that already can we move on? Every other role I’ve picked has been on purpose because I’m a trained actress and I can move from stage to film. I’ve even been in some incredible plays. I went to an all-black acting institute and I could play Juliet but they tried to keep me aside. After Cookie, they said I can’t play anything else but now I have a movie coming out in 2017, Hidden Figures, and I portray Katherine Johnson – a rocket scientist who was very instrumental in helping NASA catch up in the space race. That role is quite different from Cookie.
Terrence: It’s up to the actor and their teams to differentiate. One advice we have to actors though is to make sure they keep working in different capacities. A lot of you don’t know but Taraji has a book on how she overcame that and it’s coming out soon on the 11th of October, 2016.
Taraji, Can you tell us more about your upcoming book?
‘Around the Way Girl’ is my memoir; it came about because of the fans. The fans want to know what I did and how I did it, “how did you move and raise a son in Hollywood?”. The most interesting is that I moved to California, leaving my family behind and moved with my son having just $700 and here I am today. My fans are really intrigued by that. So, a lot of single mothers and even men need these stories. I also talked about love and the state of the black relationship now. I also talk about family and what has kept me grounded. I even talked about the work I do and my craft. It is an insight to my life; the fans wanted this and I felt like they wanted it because somehow, I give them hope and thank God I have the capacity to do that.
Terrence, Do you resonate with Lucious Lyon in any way?
Yes I do! Lucious’ love for self and his belief in one’s self because that’s what every human being needs. As a black man you have to have a great deal of self-worth in order to break through the boundaries that have been set up for you. You also have to have a great love for family and that has helped him make the kind of choices he has made. You need to have a greater love for someone outside of just your family and his love for Cookie resonates with my love for my wife Mira. It keeps you grounded and with it you can face the world…