Duke Woman Crush Wednesday: Taraji Penda Henson

by Duchess Magazine

Taraji Penda Henson is an American actress, born on September 11, 1970, Southeast Washington, D.C., to Bernice Henson, a corporate manager at Woodward & Lothrop, and Boris Lawrence Henson, a janitor and metal fabricator.

In 1988, Taraji received her high school diploma from Oxon Hill High School in Oxon Hill, Maryland. She attended North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University where she wanted to pursue electrical engineering before switching to Howard University to study acting.

She worked mornings as a secretary at The Pentagon and evenings as a singing-dancing waiter on the Spirit of Washington, a dinner cruise ship, to help pay for college.

Before achieving success in Baby Boy, she began her Hollywood career in guest parts on a number of television programs (2001).

And now, she has won numerous awards for her performances in both film and television.

Taraji Henson was the first black actress in the history of the awards program to win the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series in 2015 (for Empire). In the same category, she also took home a Golden Globe for the series.

Taraji was listed among the top 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2016.

She published the New York Times best-selling autobiography Around the Way Girl in that year. A Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture was given to her for her leading role as NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson in the highly acclaimed biographical movie Hidden Figures the same year.

Taraji’s son Marcell was born in 1994 to her high school sweetheart, William LaMarr Johnson who was later murdered in 2003.

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