Taraji P. Henson Talks Kim & Her Impact On 'Cookie'
Newly released after seventeen years in prison, Cookie is one part Mae West, one part Lil’ Kim. She talks trash, wears her skirts short, and tosses off one-liners as hilarious as they are cringe-worthy. She has a soft side, too, and her alliance with her gay son, Jamal, who was rejected by her ex-husband Lucious (played by Terrence Howard) because of his sexuality, is a tender storyline in a series packed with big, boisterous moments. We reached Henson by phone in Chicago, where she’s filming the series, to ask her how she brings the electric character to life.
Were there people from hip-hop culture that you specifically referenced for Cookie? She’s more than hip-hop: She’s everywoman, she’s a mother, she’s a family woman, a wife, a ride-or-die. She made a sacrifice to break the cycle of poverty, and that makes her an everywoman. Is she influenced by Foxy Brown? Certainly. 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.
Lil’ Kim is surely a big influence on Cookie. 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.