Empire may be coming to a close, but there’s no stopping Taraji P. Henson. Two days before the sixth and final season premiered on FOX, Taraji, 49, arrived at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards. While she wasn’t nominated (she was enlisted to be one of the night’s presenters), Taraji end up winning the whole night, thanks to her fantastic outfit. Ahead of the Sept. 22 event, Taraji walked the red carpet in a wispy pink-and-red number with a plunging neckline. Taraji has never been afraid to go bold, and she certainly did with this fabulous gown!
Here’s hoping that Empire cleans up at the 2020 Emmy Awards the same way Game of Thrones is expected to do this year. After six seasons and countless betrayals, heartbreaks and scandals, Empire’s final season will begin airing on Sept. 24. Though the ending is bittersweet, Taraji is grateful for how the show afforded her to do the thing she never thought possible. “[I got to] Travel the world,” she said during The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Sept. 19. “I never thought a television show would take me global. I thought a movie would do it. Who knew that Cookie [Lyon, her character], with her loud mouth and her craziness, would go overseas. I never saw that.”
“She gave me a second life in this industry and made me a pop star in my 40s. Cookie was a movement. Long after I’m gone, people will be talking about Cookie,” she said when speaking about her Empire character to Entertainment Weekly. Though she has earned critical praise for her work in films like 2005’s Hustle & Flow, 2008’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and 2016’s Hidden Figures, the role she’s most known for is that of the matriarch of the Lyon Family. After five seasons of sacrificing herself for her family, Taraji says that the final season of Empire will see her character “save herself and love herself. … Everything has been about doing something for her family, for her husband, for her sons — when has Cookie ever done anything for her?”
Taraji is glad for what Empire has done for the LGBT community. “I think for me, one of our proudest moments was the gay marriage,” she told Ellen Pompeo during their “Actors on Actors” session with Variety, referencing Jamal Lyon, the openly-gay character portrayed by Jussie Smollett. “I think for me, one of our proudest moments was the gay marriage. We didn’t know how the black community would accept Jamal. That storyline of the gay son, because it’s so taboo in our community. “And to have him so well-received — and you know there’s the negative homophobes on Twitter, but those are small voices compared to the resounding voices of love that the character gets.”
Unfortunately, in the wake of Jussie’s incident in Chicago, Empire’s creator, Lee Daniels, confirmed that Jussie would not be returning for the final season. Jussie was written out of the season after the actor claimed two men wearing “MAGA” hats attacked him while hurling racist and homophobic slurs. Jussie was accused of fabricating the attack and charged with making a false police report. The charges were later dropped, but the controversy still lingers. As for the fate of his character? Jamal and his husband, Kai Givens (portrayed by Toby Onwumere) “have decided to stay in London” and enjoy their honeymoon, Empire showrunner Brett Mahoney told TVLine.