Taraji P. Henson is an American actress best known for her role on TV's Empire and for her Oscar-nominated role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2011, starring Brad Pitt). Born and raised in Washington, D.C., she graduated from Howard University there in 1995 with a degree in fine arts, then started her career as in television and film. She began getting TV roles in the late 1990s, and in 2002 she joined the cast of the series The Division for 14 episodes. She played opposite Terrence Howard in 2005's Hustle & Flow, and performed that film's Oscar-winning song, "Hard Out Here for a Pimp" at the 2006 Oscar ceremony. In 2009 she was back at the Oscars, as a nominee for her supporting role as Queen in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. For two seasons she was a cop on the series Person of Interest (2011-2013, starring Jim Caviezel), and in 2014 she signed on to play Cookie Lyon, the fiery ex-con-ex-wife of Terrence Howard in the Lee Daniels television series Empire. Her other films include Talk to Me (2007, starring Don Cheadle), I Can Do Bad All By Myself (2009, directed by Tyler Perry), Date Night (2010, starring Tina Fey and Steve Carell), the remake of The Karate Kid (2010) and No Good Deed (2014, opposite Idris Elba).
Henson joined Three 6 Mafia and Cedric Coleman in performing the song “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” at the 78th Annual Academy Awards; the song won an Oscar for best original song… Her name is pronounced “ta-RAH-zhee.”
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