The room hushed as over 500 women of all ages, mostly African American, held their breath and watched Taraji P. Henson emerge from the curtains onto the stage of Baird Auditorium at the National Museum of Natural History this weekend. Tickets to see RAH were one of the many premiums offered during the WEAA 88.9 Fall Membership Drive last week.
Henson graced the stage with her signature bounce and style in bedazzled jeans, strappy pumps, and her usual purposeful self-deprecating attitude. There was standing-room only as the ladies swooned for the hottest African American diva on the scene today. She brought it! NPR’s TV critic Eric Deggans was the first to admit, “maybe I should just leave.” We cheered louder!
Henson spoke freely about growing up in the eighties in Washington D.C. Like many growing up in D.C. and other major cities at the time, her upbringing was fraught with struggle, love, and laughter; shadowed by the drug scene and then ultimately the choices she made.
Talking about her new book, Around The Way Girl, Henson described the guidance from her father and the determination that Boris Henson instilled in her. Her hand extended, Henson declared: “he told me, you will be a star, so here I am.” She swung her ponytail and gleefully hugged the whole audience. The crowd roared and cheered. Flashes of “Cookie Lion,” her character on the hit series “Empire,” seem to spike the responses.
The backdrop brought Henson to life with a screen showing clips from “Hustle and Flow,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and her infamous bustier scene from “Empire” — where she exits the scene and declares “now that’s an….” These clips brought fits of laughter and signifying!
As she breezed through her responses, Henson was poised, fresh, and undeniably frank. What an incredible and powerful social experience!