Taraji P. Henson says that when it comes to speaking up about injustice, Black women know how to lead.
While the #MeToo movement gains momentum (its origins coming from Black activist Tarana Burke) and has evolved into the #TimesUp campaign on display at this week’s Golden Globes, the Proud Mary star says the role of Black women as leaders is only fitting.
“I’ve never known Black women to bite their tongues about anything. So why now?” Henson told theGrio in a recent interview in New York City.
“We’re off to a great start― and we have a lot of work to do.”
‘I’ve never bitten my tongue’
When it comes to her specific role in the movement, Henson suggests building on her success in the business and creating opportunities for others are her priorities.
“I’ve never bitten my tongue at any time,” says Henson. “Anything I’m passionate about, I speak on it. I speak on it in the roles I choose. I speak on it in the positions I play in Hollywood.”
Henson, who also executive produced the film Proud Mary, says her success in Hollywood has been about making people respect her talent and ability to do business–especially as a Black woman.
“Every time you see my name as an executive producer, know that I fought,” says Henson. “Every time you see my name as an executive producer, know that’s an opportunity to bring work to the industry.”
Women can do it too
Henson’s latest role in Proud Mary features her as an assassin whose life gets turn upside down after meeting a young boy on a hit job― a role that at 47-years-old, Henson says she defied stereotypes by taking on.
“We see men in these roles all the time, and here we have a great opportunity to prove to the world that women can do it too ― at whatever age, it doesn’t matter,” Henson told theGrio.
“The older [men] get more opportunities to play these heroic characters. Why not women?”
Henson advises that women continue to speak out and stick together when they face doubters, whether they are in the board room or on the big screen.
“Let them question you. Let those questions fuel your ambition,” Henson says.
“Know your power, you are not a victim. You control everything. Someone says something to you out of pocket, put em in line. We have to take up for each other, we have to look out for each other.”
From the retro days of “Coffy” starring bombshell Pam Grier to modern remakes like “Foxy Brown” featuring the stunner Meagan Good, Taraji P. Henson’s “Proud Mary” is yet another reminder that black women can― and should― get a piece of Hollywood’s movie action.
“Proud Mary” hits theaters Jan. 12. Check out the trailer below!