By Charreah Jackson, ESSENCE.com
Taraji P. Henson is definitely living her life like it’s golden (pun totally intended for her Academy Award nomination). And when Tyler Perry called on her to lead his new movie, “I Can Do Bad All By Myself,” she worked it alongside Madea, Mary J. Blige and Gladys Knight. The busy actress shares her experiences of working with Perry again, what role has been closes to her real life, and why she is ready to jump into something new.
ESSENCE.COM: Your new role is a meaty one! How did Tyler woo you for another film and what was your favorite moment of taping?
TARAJI P. HENSON: The day after the Academy Awards I woke up to my phone ringing and it was Tyler saying he had a project for me. He offered me my first leading role to carry a film and I was happy to accept. I loved the scenes with Madea the most, because those were some of the funniest. It’s so hard to keep a straight face, because Madea is something to be reckoned with!
ESSENCE.COM: You play a singer in the film and are in great company with Mary J. Blige and Gladys Knight as costars. What was the experience like working with them and could you see yourself going into music?
HENSON: I’m not planning on anything, but never say never. Of course Mary was a little nervous because acting is not her first profession. She just wanted to be good and respected the craft, and I respected her for that. I told her to let go and be free, and she appreciated that. Gladys dropped many pearls of wisdom, and it was an honor to be around her. She’s amazing.
ESSENCE.COM: Your character also deals with emotional moments regarding her parents, and you’ve shared the painful experience of losing your dad. Were you able to pull from your own past ?
HENSON: Definitely. When Pastor Winans and Gladys Knight’s character Wilma share sad news with my character, I could totally draw from my experience. That was a very painful scene for me.
ESSENCE.COM: So, which of the characters that you’ve played have you identified with the most?
HENSON: The character most like me in one point in my life was in “Baby Boy.” She reminded me of when I was young and I could totally understand. That was an episode in my life and I’m glad I’ve grown from that.
ESSENCE.COM: Definitely! What’s been the biggest change in your career since the Oscar nomination and what type of roles are you hoping for next?
HENSON: I haven’t had to audition for roles anymore and that’s great! It’s all paid off. They know I will deliver a great performance. I really want to get into comedy. I’m ready to laugh. Who wants to cry?
Catch Taraji in Tyler Perry’s “I Can Do Bad All By Myself,” now in theaters.