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Taraji P. Henson has a message for those critics who are dogging out her uber-addictive series, Empire: Thanks. Now we all know most people wouldn’t give someone hating on you and what you’re doing another thought (but possibly a good read) so why is Taraji even entertaining the idea? The actress chopped it up in the latest edition of Uptown Magazine where she addressed the negative feedback some have given on the hit Fox series. While Lee Daniels insists the show is a tool to help many in the black community address homosexuality and shed a light on situations family members face, some have criticized the show’s portrayals of blacks and gays.

In the magazine’s Feb/March issue, Taraji scoffs at the backlash and is all for the open dialogue the show is giving. Taraji stated:

I’m just proud that people are talking. Everybody don’t like Barack Obama,” she says, referencing the second episode of the season where her on-screen son, Hakeem (Gray) slams the POTUS, calling him a sellout. “People are out there saying that. That’s what art is supposed to do: expose this shit. You know, we’re dealing with subject matter that’s not really dealt with. Art is supposed to challenge, start a conversation, so let’s lift the carpet up and deal with this dirt. It’s not like we bashed Barack Obama and the show went off. No, Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) jumped in his [son’s] ass. That’s real life stuff. So I’m glad you’re mad. Do something about it. Go in the hood and talk to the kids so they don’t do dumb stuff like that.

The gang over at Empire’s doing something right to get people not only talking but watching. Since the show’s first episode, it keeps climbing up in the ratings and also shattered a 23-year-old record for being the only primetime scripted series to grow in total viewers since 1991. While Taraji and her co-stars are reaping the rewards for Empire’s success, she spoke frankly about racial profiling in America and how it has affected her. Taraji opened up on how her son Marcel, was unjustly profiled while in a suburb in Los Angeles, resulting in her deciding to have him attend Howard University, which is also her alma mater.

My child has been racially profiled. He was in Glendale, California and did exactly everything the cops told him to do, including letting them illegally search his car. It was bogus because they didn’t give him the ticket for what he was pulled over for. Then he’s at University of Southern California, the school that I was going to transfer him to, when police stopped him for having his hands in his pockets. So guess where he’s going? Howard University. I’m not paying $50K so I can’t sleep at night wondering is this the night my son is getting racially profiled on campus.

Ain’t mad at her with that.

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Taraji P. Henson Fires Back At Critics Slamming ‘Empire’ was originally published on

17 thoughts on “Taraji P. Henson Fires Back At Critics Slamming ‘Empire’

  1. The black community is not the only community that doesn’t want to deal with homosexuality. No community wants to deal with this. I have many, many, many friends from every comity you can think of and they are all doing the same thing that we in the black community do. They are just as intolerant as the next. If you think the black community is intolerant on this subject, just try speaking to a white intact Protestant family, or an intact Hispanic family, or a Mid-Western white family or heck any family that is deeply deeply religious. Once you have done this research then come back and tell me how the black community is more intolerant than the next. I’ll wait.

  2. I find it “Amazing” and rather Ironic how “Ignorant” shows such as Empire hit record numbers in the Age of the New Blaxploitation Era. American Negroes being obsessed with their ‘Brands’ and Dollars to expose the Worst of our people all in the name of a check. Meanwhile, on a Network that maintains the stereotypes of the 21st Century American Negro.

  3. Just saw Dwight Howard do something funny [like sit down and grab this dudes crotch]. Its on yahoo! Man shhhhhhhhhh. I’m in the market with ma wife and sistas wantta join me anyway-book does say-five women would take hold of one man! With all this homo madness-no wonder.

  4. Ani’t gonna lie-its the reason [dudes kissing] I didn’t watch last night. And the show turned out to be a Good one. ah other than that sit [dudes kissin]

  5. I don’t like the show, so I don’t watch it and that’s my prerogative. Lee Daniels is using a lot of what happened in his life to shed light for others – that’s his prerogative. Showing this to the masses will continue to generate backlash and conversation and eventually that’s how we learn

  6. Mary Ann Parrish on said:

    I love EMPIRE, and I think Taraji P. is FIERCE as Cookie. She is what makes the show interesting. I understand her concern about her son’s profiling, but it happens everywhere. It happened to my son right in front of my house!!!!!! But real parents fear for their kids, and she has a right to protect him as she sees fit.

    Hope EMPIRE stays on for a long time……the topics they address may be things the Black community doesn’t want to address sometimes, but we need to take our heads out of the sand because it is happening.

  7. Either someone likes Empire, or they don’t. It’s as simple as that. I didn’t hear anyone saying anything when The Sopranos was #1 in the ratings for years, nor when The Godfather movie(s) were big. It’s entertainment folks….nothing more….nothing less

    • @Joy2, the Italian community was all upset about the Sopranos and so were many NJ residents. But guess what it was still number one and a darn good show. If they don’t like it don’t watch it. Right?

  8. Exhale Exhale on said:

    OK Taraji now you sound ignorant!!! My oldest daughter was stopped in my car because B more police thought she was a BLACK male robbery suspect. She had on her sis buckeye student athlete hoodie!! Now do you think I would pull my daughter out of a great school where she is having a ball because of aggressive B more police???? There is more to the story because you don’t strike as the type to run like a coward if the police were wrong!!! She the one thing your son and my daughter did was OBEY POLICE because they didn’t rob a store or do anything illegal!! LOVE LOVE LOVE Empire and I’m glad Lee toned down some of the ignorant gay remarks from Lucious and Hakeem against Obama!!! There is a fine line between “keeping it real” and sounding ignorant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • @Exhale. Sounds like you need to exhale. To me ‘ignorance’ is when people think that all situations are the same, or think that ALL Black, white, or latino people are, and think the same way, and that ALL of the mentioned groups are on the same level (in life’s journey). NOT !!!

  9. Whenever taboo subjects (within the black community) are spoken in the atmosphere, there is always going to be backlash. We’ve got to stop hiding within our secrets.

  10. specialt757 on said:

    Down-low brothers probably contributes to the black communities AIDS epidemic more so than anything. They should pick a side, be straight or be gay. But definitely not sleep with women who don’t know you’re gay. At least the directors of Empire limit the gay love scene, because I for one don’t want to see them, males or females.

  11. Empire is an AWESOME show. Yes it deals with issues that the African-American community would rather not deal with-HOMOSEXUALITY/INTOLERANCE!

    However, it’s about time that all of this was dealt with, since the Aids epidemic is still affecting people of color more than anyone else in the 21st century.

    Yes, Empire is raw at times but that’s what makes each episode worthwhile watching.

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