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Before she was beating people with brooms and creating one-liners the world will relive for decades, Taraji P. Henson was already a household name—depending on which household you were in.

She was the unforgettable Yvette in Baby Boy, the original Bonnie to Terrence’s Clyde as Shug in Hustle & Flow, and the lovable workaholic in Steve Harvey’s Think Like a Man. Before Cookie was brought to life, Henson was known for her dramatic acting chops and twenty year-long career. But now, the D.C. native can’t walk down the street without being noticed for her breakout success on FOX’s hit show, Empire.

Mainstream success is harder to handle than being an “urban star.” Sure, you can get a table at the hottest restaurant in town and make more money, but a lot comes with being that famous: more criticism, more hate, more love, more fans, and less time to be a normal person. However, one of the best things Taraji is experiencing with her newfound level of fame is recognition for her incomparable talent after two decades in the film industry.

For the first time in history, two Black women— How to Get Away with Murder’s Viola Davis and Taraji P. Henson— have been nominated for an Emmy award in the Outstanding Lead Actress In a Drama Series category. Though Taraji is proud and excited about the nomination, if you let her tell it, she’s over being the “first Black” anything.

“How bittersweet,” Henson told Global Grind on the red carpet of Empire’s season two premiere. “Here we are in 2015 and we are still saying first African-American anything. Hopefully, she or myself will win so we can get past that and we don’t have to say that anymore.”

With the overnight success and record-breaking ratings of Empire’s first season, many outlets have deemed Taraji the winner before the awards ceremony even airs on Sunday night. But Taraji is only focused on one thing to say if she, or Viola, takes the prize: “Now we are over it and now what? We don’t have to say ‘the first of this, the first that!’ It’s 2015 like, come on.”

Before millions tune in on Sept. 23 to watch her television return as Cookie – whom Taraji says “Luscious can’t keep down” – Henson will hold her breath for two seconds before Sunday night’s winner is announced, solidifying the victor’s place in pop culture.

As we’ve all seen since 1993, Taraji has been a star since we heard her scream “Jody!” and will continue to shine whether she takes home the award or not. We have a gut feeling that she will.

Watch Taraji, Viola, and more stars at the 67th Annual Emmy Awards, this Sunday night at 8/7c on FOX.


Taraji P. Henson’s Emmy Nod Is Great, But She’s Over Being The “First Black” Anything  was originally published on