Taraji P. Henson Talks Her 'Empire' Character Being Inspired By Foxy Brown, Lil' Kim And Salt-N-Pepa

FOX’s new series Empire is the breakout hit that they have been waiting for, pulling in 11.5 million viewers for this week’s episode alone. The hip-hop drama is filled with excitement, thrill and leaves viewers with suspense, thanks to its feisty protagonist Cookie, played by Taraji P. Henson. Cookie makes us cheer and cringe at the same time with her fierce clap backs at anyone who gets in her way, her street smarts and her plethora of animal print garbs.

In a recent chat with Vogue, Henson dished about Cookie and said her hardcore persona is pulled from some of hip-hop’s finest femcees.

“Is she influenced by Foxy Brown? Certainly,” the DC native said. “That’s where a lot of her style comes from—Salt-N-Pepa, all of that. That era of hip-hop was her heyday, those are the woman she identifies with.”

The 44-year-old also gushed about Lil’ Kim’s influence not only on Cookie but on hip-hop in general.

“Kim is everything. Today it’s Nicki Minaj, but Nicki Minaj got everything from Kim. Kim came on the scene and made everything change for women—she made it feminine and sexy and hardcore. She was a champion, and she’s certainly Cookie’s champion.”

Henson said she is happy that’s there talk that Empire is changing the landscape of television and making it “less safe,” because that was the whole point.

“I’ve been hearing about this thing in Hollywood call the ‘Empire effect.’ A lot of pilots are going back to the drawing board, saying, How can we switch this up, make it more realistic. On TV things are tied up so neat, but we are going to shake up television. Because people love this girl.”

Read the rest of her sit down with Vogue here.

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