Mary J. Blige lauds Taraji P. Henson’s influence for the TIME 100

As one of many Black honorees on Time's list of Most Influential People, Taraji P. Henson received a heartfelt feature penned by Mary J. Blige.

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Taraji P. Henson on the cover of Time 100 issue (Photo credit: Time magazine)

This week, Time magazine released its annual list of the 100 Most Influential People, designed to highlight individuals and ideas that shape the world. Editor-in-Chief Sam Jacobs said the list features honorees across industries, including actress Taraji P. Henson, who’s featured on one of the issue’s four covers. 

Henson and other honorees, like “The Color Purple” co-star Colman Domingo, received tributes from celebrities including Burna Boy, Michelle Obama, Lenny Kravitz and Ava DuVernay. Mary J. Blige wrote the heartfelt article on Henson. 

“Even before I knew her, I already felt like Taraji P. Henson was my friend,” Blige wrote. “She was an actor I loved to watch, and I always felt like I could relate to her because she perfectly embodied who we are as women. Taraji is a real woman — she doesn’t bite her tongue, and she’s not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. She’s always true and authentic, and she’s just as fearless onscreen, which is why she’s one of my favorite actors.” 

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Blige concluded with a loving and uplifting note that encourages Henson to keep doing what she’s doing. That expression of sisterhood and support reflects Henson’s aim to impact the next generation, especially young Black girls. 

“Growing up, I related to Molly Ringwald because those were the coming-of-age stories that we had back then,” Henson said in a celebratory video. “The reason why I related to her was because in ‘Pretty in Pink,’ she was poor. She came from a single-family home. She was the underdog, but she didn’t look like me. So I was like, imagine if growing up I had [someone who looked like me]?” 

“I’m just loving what our Black young women have [today],” Henson added. “I just want to continue moving that train forward because I wish to be a young Black girl now… times have changed for the better, for sure.” 

Following the release of “The Color Purple,” Henson was lauded for her portrayal of siren Shug Avery and for sparking a national conversation about pay disparity in Hollywood. In addition to advocating for equal pay within the entertainment industry, the “Empire” star is a champion for mental health in the Black community. She founded the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, which seeks to destigmatize mental health, increase awareness and improve access to resources. 

“I would influence a person to take care of your mental by any means necessary,” she told Time. “I want my future self to be proud of this moment right now. Because what happens when a woman speaks her truth, the world cracks open.” 

See all the honorees at