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Fans lit up with excitement following Wednesday’s episode of Abbott Elementary. On April 12, Taraji P. Henson returned to TV when she appeared in the hit ABC show as Vanetta, the mom of Quinta Brunson’s happy-go-lucky character, Janine Teagues. 



Social media reacts to Taraji P. Henson’s surprise appearance.

Twitter users couldn’t get enough of the unexpected cameo.

“Taraji as Janine’s mom on Abbott was actually perfect,” wrote one fan.  Some users thought the Color of Purple star brought the feistiness and sass of her famous Empire character Cookie Lyon to the role.

Throughout the show’s second season, Teagues, a passionate second-grade teacher at Abbott Elementary, speaks briefly about her estranged relationship with her mother. But on Wednesday, fans finally got to see their complex dynamic play out on screen when Vanetta stopped by the school for a surprise visit with an ulterior motive. 

Some fans of the show said Henson portrayed the Philadelphia teacher’s “selfish,” “aloof,” and messy matriarch down to a tee.

A few netizens on Twitter weren’t too impressed with the actress’s “stereotypical” performance.

The palpable tension between Teagues’ mom and her close colleague Barbara Howard, played by Emmy Award-winning actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, had some users on edge.


Taraji P. Henson talks more about her role and her real-life experience in the classroom.

In an interview with USA Today, Henson, 52, spoke more about her exciting role as Vanetta. Describing her character to the outlet, Henson said Teagues’ mom was “saucy” but “a little different” from her role as the infamous crime boss Cookie Lyon.

“Cookie had her stuff together .. this girl, she’s just a mess. She likes the clubs; she’s just a little selfish,” the Oscar-nominated star said. “Janine was probably more of the mother than Vanetta.”

For Henson, starring in Abbott Elementary hit close to home. Before her Hollywood career took off, the Washington D.C. native worked as a substitute teacher for special needs children in Los Angeles.

“They would always put my life in perspective, like, ‘What are you whining about?'” Henson shared of her time in the classroom. “‘You have all your faculties, you can walk, you can feed yourself; be happy, right?’ These babies would come in, and they would be smiling. It was so pure, so full of joy.” 

Some fans are dying to see the talented actress have a reoccurring role on the popular sitcom, but only time will tell!

What did you think of Wednesday’s episode of Abbott Elementary? 


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