The Emmy-nominated actress and Empire star absolutely stuns on the cover of the magazine’s “Game Changer” issue. Inside, Taraji dishes on everything from race in Hollywood, to dating and being a single mom.
Check out a few highlights from her cover story below.
On her Emmy nod:
“[Before the nominations] everybody kept saying to me, “Have you cleaned your mantel off?” I said, “Everybody chill.” I knew the day was coming, but I didn’twatch the nominations. I was getting ready to go to work. The phone rang, and it was my manager. I was like, “OK, he’s clearly not calling with bad news.” [Laughs.]
On Cookie Lyon:
“She is everybody’s alter ego. She crosses cultures. [Last year] we went to Paris and screened the pilot for a thousand people. Lee Daniels [the series’ co-creator] brought me onstage. The audience stood up on their feet and clapped. I cried because, for so long in Hollywood, I’ve been told that black women don’t do well overseas, that they can’t open a film overseas. That moment for me was the best moment of my life. That’s better than any trophy, any award, any nomination. You know how they say music can heal the world? I feel that way about art in general.
On facing scrutiny:
“I don’t think about other people. They are not walking in my shoes. They are not paying my bills. What makes me happy is when I do what I like to do, for me.
On racial progress in Hollywood:
“I think we are making strides in Hollywood. It’s the world that I’m more concerned about…. My son grew up in a pretty much all-white situation and went to the best of schools. I saw the change when he got older and started to get that life is different for him [as a black male]. He came home crying, like, “Why do white people hate us? Why can’t we fix this?” This can be fixed. I’m gonna try my best to make change.
On being a single mom:
“When I got pregnant in college, people said, “This is it for her.” But I did not stop. I never missed a class. I was in the school musical when I was six months pregnant—we just made the character pregnant. My mother swears Marcel came out doing the dance; he had learned the choreography. When I graduated, I carried my son across the stage. I wanted to be an actress; I moved out to L.A. with him. People were like, “Are you crazy, moving to California with your son?” My father was like, “Leave him home.” I said, “I can’t leave my son at home.” [And eventually] my father said, “That’s your baby. That’s your blessing. He’s going to be your strength.” And you know what? He was. I didn’t have time to go to the club to “network.” That’s B.S. No business deals go down at the club. So I didn’t get caught up in that. I had a mission. I had to make my dream come true. If I didn’t, what was I proving to my son?
“I’m a mother first. I’m not trying to bring this guy and this guy around. I’m raising my son, and he’s gonna respect women, and that starts with me. [Dating] in the spotlight—I have to consider my son. I don’t want to make it uncomfortable for him when he goes to school with his peers. And I have to answer to my mom too. And my 91-year-old grandmother. I can’t be like, “Nothing, Grandma, I didn’t do it; it’s just a [picture of a] girl that looks like me, I promise!”
Also featured in a trio of covers for the issue are Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez, and Emma Roberts of new show Scream Queens.
To read Taraji’s full interview, click here.