Taraji On Choosing Derek Luke Because He’s Chocolate And Keeping Terrence Howard Unaroused During Sex Scenes

March 18, 2015  |  

Y’all already know that we’re waiting with baited breath to see how Lee Daniels, Danny Strong and the Lyon family will conclude season one of “Empire.” And of course we’re not the only ones. The show has captured the attention of the entire nation. So naturally, Taraji P. Henson has been making her rounds promoting the show. Recently, she sat down with Power 105’s Angie Martinez to discuss some of the behind the scenes secrets, including why she picked Derek Luke to be her second love interest, how she keeps Terrence Howard from getting an erection during their sex scenes and the little crush she had on Tyrese back in the day.

Check out the highlights from the interview and watch the entire thing on the last page.

Did you have any say in who got the role of your second love interest?

I did! They gave me a list and I said that one. You gotta know how to act too. Derek Luke is a good actor and he’s easy on the eye. But not only that, I just thought it would be great. You know in the community, we have this thing with light skin/ dark skin and I was like we gon’ have to mix this up a bit because if not, the people are going to get us. They’re going to be like ‘Oooh what y’all scared of the chocolate?!’ So I made it a point. I said whoever the love interest is, he has to be chocolate or not so light.


The booty shot 

You know that wasn’t scripted? But the Cookie in me had to get her [Anika] back. Remember that one episode time she went upstairs and made sure she changed and came down in her lingerie? I had to show her what a butt looks like. Literally, when I did it, the whole entire cast and crew was like *gasp.* And I said, ‘You betta keep it!’

For me, it’s not about Taraji and Taraji’s vanity. For me it was about Cookie and Cookie getting back at Anika. I didn’t even think about how my butt would look on television. I didn’t care. I wasn’t thinking as Taraji. It’s just something that happened in the moment and it worked. And thank God it looked good.

Auditioning for “Scandal” and her love for Kerry Washington

When I went into to read for Shonda Rhimes, in my mind I’m like ‘This is Kerry Washington why am I even here?’  Not that I didn’t try to get it, but it was her’s. It was her job. She’s great in it. Then I do “Empire” and they make these horrible memes. I saw her at the NAACP Image Awards and we had a good laugh about it.

Using the N Word on the show

I don’t think that’s ever going to happen. I just don’t think America’s ready for that on primetime network television. I think Terrence brought it up and then some kind of way people have been asking me my thoughts on it. As an artist, playing these people true to life, that word would absolutely be tossed around. If this was a movie we were doing or if this was on cable–because when I got the script, the n-word was all up and through there. And I was like ‘Fox is going to let us say this?’ But now that we’ve accomplished what we’ve accomplished we don’t even really need it. Now we make a movie? Because it’s true to who these people are. You can’t deal with Hip Hop and not use that word. You can’t go to the hood and think you’re not going to hear that word. Cookie spent 17 years in prison. You think she’s never been called one or used the word. People get sensitive sometimes but when you’re talking about art and you have to be true to the characters, you have to be true to the characters.

If they did use the N-word 

Oprah wouldn’t have made an appearance and we probably wouldn’t have as many viewers…or sponsorships.


Her relationship with Terrence Howard 

I would have walked away if they didn’t hire Terrence. The only reason it had to be Terrence is because Terrence and I have such a history. I’ve known Terrence for 10 years now. We hosted the Soul Train Awards two years in a row. We’ve done two or three movies together. I’ve been through all his relationships with him. He’s like one of my coolest male friends in life. We talk whenever we’re not working. So when you think about that love and that connection that Cookie and Lucious have, you’ve kind of got to have that.

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