Taraji P. Henson is on a mission to change Hollywood for the better. The Empire actress stars in and serves as an executive producer on the upcoming action film, Proud Mary and, as she explained in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, this film means more to her than another highlight on her IMDB page. Henson's character, Mary, is an anomaly: It’s not every day we see a 47-year-old Black woman play an ass-kicking assassin.
"When women get older in this business, they tend to send us out to pastures; meanwhile, you have Liam Neeson, however old he is, still kicking ass in Taken and Denzel Washington, who, at any given drop of a dime, will do an action film," she said to THR. It was also noted that Henson is more than a decade younger than both Neeson and Washington.
"Fuck that. If men can do it, why can't we? I feel like women get better as we age. Give us the same chances as you give men," she continued.
Proud Mary is just one of a couple of pivotal roles Henson is set to get off the ground in the near future. She’s also set to portray Ann Atwater, a civil rights activist who fought for Black rights and was instrumental in the war on poverty, in The Best of Enemies. Atwater also formed an unlikely friendship with a former ranked KKK member. "She's very boisterous like Cookie — oh, she's a barracuda — but that story is very relevant and needed now," Henson said, comparing her fiery Empire character to the IRL Atwater.
Speaking of Cookie, Henson also explained to TRH that she’s been fighting hard to get Empire streamed “legally” abroad, despite pushback from bigwig executives. "They weren't even gonna sell Empire overseas — you know what forced them to sell it? The people, because they were streaming it illegally,” she said. “Then [studio executives] go, 'We can make some money,' and all of a sudden they want to sell the show [internationally]. What? You don't even expect us to do well." That experience has also inspired Henson to put the pressure on Proud Mary's distribution team for exposure abroad.
Clearly, Henson is just as fearless IRL as the women she chooses to play on the big screen.