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Taraji P. Henson stole our hearts as “Cookie” in the first season of Empire, and now, we can’t get enough of her.

Though she’s always been a great actress, it seems the world is just beginning to notice the 44-year-old single mom and all of the hard work she’s put in over the years. She has certainly been through a lot – and we do mean a lot – but you’d never know by her optimistic, upbeat attitude, not to mention her youthful skin.

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Taraji and her timeless beauty are heavy on the promo trail as FOX churns out teasers for the second season of her new hit show, most recently hitting PEOPLE magazine for a new spread. Inside the publication, she talks growing up and not seeing inspirational people who look like her on TV.

She said of the television business and of her role in Empire:

“Growing up, it was rare for me to see a woman that looked like me that inspired me. So it was very important for me to portray Cookie. I didn’t want to [screw] it up.”

Taraji continued:

“She’s such a powerhouse, so I was very delicate with her,” says Henson, whose portrayal of Cookie has garnered her an Emmy nomination for outstanding leading actress in a drama. “She can be really bigger than life, so I took very good care into making her someone that people could identify with – a real person, not just a caricature who could be sassy and roll her neck.”

The icing on the cake is that Taraji is also featured in the latest issue of Harper’s Bazaar.

Stay tuned for more from Taraji. Cookie and Lucius return to our living rooms on September 23rd.

SOURCE: PEOPLE | PHOTO CREDIT: Instagram, PEOPLE, Getty

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