'Empire' Star Taraji P. Henson Is Empowering As Cookie, But Somehow She’s Even More Inspirational IRL

If fans of FOX's hit drama series Empire have learned anything, it's that Cookie Lyon is one of the most empowering characters on television. You know who else possesses those qualities? The actress who plays her, Taraji P. Henson. When she isn't busy inspiring through acting, the Emmy-nominated actress is motivating through her daily life. For example, as one of Glamour's October cover stars, Taraji P. Henson shows women can have dreams at any stage of their life. The 44-year-old is proof that women can be any age, can be single, can be mothers, can be whatever and whoever and still go after their passions.

While attending college, Henson got pregnant with her son, Marcel, which immediately made many assume she wouldn't become a successful actress. Clearly, they don't know Henson. She told Glamour,

When I got pregnant in college, people said, "This is it for her." But I did not stop. I never missed a class. I was in the school musical when I was six months pregnant — we just made the character pregnant.

She never once stopped dreaming just because she had a child or was a single mother. "When I graduated, I carried my son across the stage," she added. "I wanted to be an actress; I moved out to L.A. with him. People were like, 'Are you crazy, moving to California with your son?'" One of those people was Henson's father. He wanted her to leave her son home, but soon realized that she couldn't do that and he even said Marcel was going to be her "strength." Guess what? He was right.

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As for her career and working her way to become not only one of the biggest stars on the small screen, but also an Oscar-nominated actress? Well, Henson didn't let anyone tell her "no" nor did she get sucked into the Hollywood lifestyle. She said,

I didn’t have time to go to the club to 'network.' That’s B.S. No business deals go down at the club. So I didn’t get caught up in that. I had a mission. I had to make my dream come true. If I didn’t, what was I proving to my son?

For Henson, it seems like it wasn't a question that she would never give up, especially for her son's sake. As she explained, "People live by example. I can’t tell you, 'You can be anything,' if I shot my own dreams down or was too afraid to go after them."

Anyone else feeling motivated and inspired to go after their dreams? Me too. Far too many women, especially in the entertainment industry, are told they have to live a certain lifestyle, look a particular way, be a specific size or age, or act in a particular manner. Thankfully, women like Henson are proving those unfortunate stereotypes wrong and changing Hollywood for the better.