This Was Actually The Best Part Of Taraji's White Hot Holidays

Photo: Courtesy of Michael Becker/FOX.
Taraji P. Henson put her own spin on Christmastime Thursday night with Taraji’s White House Holidays on FOX. The actress hosted the hour-long variety show event that included musical performances from Ciara, the Ying Yang Twins, Fergie and her Empire co-star, Jussie Smollett among others. There were some funny skits, like the one where Tituss Burgess played baby Jesus, and quite a bit of genuine holiday cheer. It was the kind of programming that we don’t see enough of on major networks — national specials dedicated to Black culture. But the best part of the show came at the end. After the credits rolled, TPH Productions was acknowledged for putting the show together. THP stands for Taraji P. Henson, so it's safe to say she did more than host the special.
In a time where people of color are calling to see themselves represented on screen and in the creative envisioning and production of content, it is no small feat that Henson has made the jump from acting to producing at this level. Earlier this year when I interviewed Sterling K. Brown, who is arguably the poster child for diversity in Hollywood, he acknowledged that progress seems to be working in favor of Black and Brown men, not women. He also made it clear that real progress can’t occur until people of color are also given space in writers rooms, director’s chairs, and executive meetings. Henson has her seat at the table by bringing this special to life for the third year in a row.
Henson doesn’t take it for granted either, because it’s kind of a big deal. At the show’s conclusion, she took to Instagram to share a captured image of her production company credit. In her caption, she called producing the variety show for primetime a dream come true while acknowledging how hard she worked to see the whole thing come to fruition. And truthfully that work paid off.
Taraji’s White Hot Christmas was actually good. It featured the skits that would make me consider watching Saturday Night Live! if they had more of them. The performance lineup was amazing. It was funny. And it’s exactly the kind of show I would want to re-watch with friends and family in a onesie on Christmas day. It attracted 2.8 million viewers according to TVLine. This was more than double the CW’s Jingle Ball coverage. While gatekeepers have stood firmly in mainstream culture to set the standard for good entertainment and comedy, a diverse group of content creators is giving us the programming we actually want to see.
Tiffany Haddish and her award season snubs have been fresh on my mind. Specifically, the refusal of the Golden Globes to acknowledge Black movies like Girls Trip, but tap into her talent and star power to liven up the award show. This is the kind of misuse of Black labor that makes true diversity so hard to accomplish. To see Henson acknowledged beyond her skills as an actor or even a host gives me so much hope. Even if it was only for one night, Henson got a seat at the table that benefitted all of us.

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