Mommy Mash Up: Taraji P. Henson on Her New Film “From the Rough”

April 28, 2014  |  

Taraji P. Henson is having a great 2014! After sitting on the “movie shelf” for over two years, “From the Rough” is finally hitting the big screen. In this Pierre Bagley directed film, Henson stars as the inspirational Catana Starks.

“From the Rough” is based on Starks time spent as the former swim coach at Tennessee State University who became the first woman to ever coach an all men’s team at the collegiate level. In the film viewers watch as Starks, facing resounding prejudices, whips an unruly group of boys from around the world into shape – and leads them to an all-time record at the PGA National Collegiate Minority Championship.

The film places Henson in her first lead role since starring in Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself and the hit Think Like a Man. What’s next for this D.C. native? Well, the follow-up Think Like a Man Too and the thriller “No Good Deed.”

But for now, she’s giving the exclusive on “From the Rough.” The cast includes Letoya Luckett, Tom Felton, Justin Chon, Paul Hodge, Ben Youcef, Henry Simmons, and Michael Clarke Duncan in one of his final performances before his death in 2012.

She recently sat down with, to give some insight on her character, meeting the inspirational Catana and upcoming projects. Here’s what she had to say:

What was the attraction to playing Catana Starks?

Taraji P. Henson: Initially when I read the script, I was like, “Wow! What a woman! What a story!” Then I thought to myself about when have I ever seen a female coach? I have to do this. I want to bring her story to life. From reading the script, I was inspired and seeing the caliber of actors and people that the project drew. This woman is very powerful and I don’t think she understood how powerful she was until someone told they wanted to write a story about her life.

What was it like meeting Catana?

TH: It was great. Because I know her through the script, she’s this little woman. She’s very short, but she’s powerful. There’s something in the way she looks at you. There’s something in the way she speaks. She’s a powerful woman but unspoken. She doesn’t walk into a room and demands your attention but when you look, you’ll notice.

How was working with this cast?

TH: It was amazing. It was fun. It never felt like work. It was a perfect cast. I’ve seen the film a few times now and when I look back, I loved each and every one of those boys. I’m a mother so I have that maternal thing anyway and when I watched the film, it made me think of Catana Starks as a coach and what goes into that. Having this many kids with their own personalities and she had to deal with each and every one of them in a different way and be positive for all of them. At the same time, what she does with one player may not work with another and she had to work through those differences. It was cool developing a bond with each of the kids.

Being in a lead role is rare for you. How did you feel when you know this film rests on your shoulders?

TH: I’m my worst critic but I think I’m finally at a place where I feel I can carry a film. Back in the day, I wasn’t ready; but with all the experience of being in a supporting cast, I know what it takes to actually do film and being a lead. It’s important that you are following the story. Every day, you are filming out of sequence. That’s the biggest about carrying a film. Where are you in the story? When they go into the editing room, everything has to connect. On the first day, we shot the end of the story and the middle of the film is what we shot at the beginning. As a lead, you have to feel the growth and the arc. These are things you have to take into consideration before taking on such a challenge.

What can we expect from your character in Think Like A Man Too?

TH: I think people will see a softer side of Lauren. She has someone else to consider. She’s still ambitious. She’s not just thinking of herself anymore.

No Good Deed is also coming out this year.

TH: I’m so excited for that because that was a new genre for me. I enjoyed working with Idris Elba and he’s scary in this film. It’s so commercial. It’s my first big commercial where I’m the star.

For the full interview, check out “From the Rough” hit theaters this past Friday, April 25th.

We’re saying Go Mama! As Taraji continues to make strides as a hot mom and go-getter Actress.

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