By: Amanda Anderson-Niles
Actress Taraji P. Henson is enjoying the success of FOX’s smash hit “Empire,” but she truly feels she owes her acting career to her father.
He died while she was filming “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and she opened up about his passing in a recent essay for CR Fashion Book.
My dad was my champion. He’s the reason I’m an actress. I remember calling him one day, so frustrated. I was like, “I’m not getting anything.” And he said, “You asked for LONGEVITY!” and I was like, Uh, yeah Dad, I didn’t think it would take this long. After my first big role, I said, “Oh my God, Daddy, this is it.” He was like, “Do you understand that is nothing compared to what is coming for you? That sun is going to crack open and shine so bright.” He looked off in the distance and said, “You are going to be a sensation.” And I was like, “What the f*ck do you see? I want to see what you see.”
Dad was truth serum. Completely uninhibited. I would have to give a disclaimer to my friends: don’t take anything he says too personally, that’s just the type of guy he is. He once literally tossed my gay friend in the closet and said, “I’m going to throw you in the prayer closet and see if you don’t catch fire.” Then he went upstairs laughing: “I love you, Jeffrey, I’m just playing with you. Come out here boy. You gay and that’s all right with me.” My friend didn’t take offense to it. I had already given the disclaimer so he knew.
My dad died right before I went into production for Benjamin Button, and I was devastated. I was compartmentalizing my pain, but this movie forced me to deal with it. Just as my father died I was playing this woman named Queenie, who runs an old-age home, and all she does is deal with death every day. God is interesting. A few months later God says, “I’m also going to take your cousin.”
Taraji’s cousin passed away from AIDS. Click next to read what she had to say about his death.