*Playing Cookie Lyon on the hit Fox music drama “Empire” has certainly catapulted Taraji P. Henson into super-stardom, but she’s keeping it real about her future on the series. During a recent interview with Variety, the actress confessed that she now finds playing the loudmouth fashionista quite draining.
“I could not do this forever. No. Cookie wears me out!” Henson told Variety. “She drains me,” the actress adds with a laugh. “She is emotionally all over the place. Those writers, they just keep pushing my emotions with every episode. By the 18th episode [of each season], I’m dead. I got to get far away. I don’t wear animal print. I cut my hair into a bob. I don’t wear a weave because I’ve got to get as far away from Cookie as possible.”
With “Empire” now entering its fourth season, Henson revealed which season she would like to call it quits on the show, “Once it’s syndicated — and then I’m like, ‘Thank you. Goodnight!’”
“I learned this from the women of ‘Sex and the City’ — you’ve got to know when to go out. You don’t want to overstay your welcome. You want to go out on a high. You want to be remembered as the number one show on network,” Henson adds. “I’m going to lose my passion, I know me. And Cookie is enough. I can’t do that for so long.”
Henson also reveals that when she first read the script for “Empire,” she was “scared to death.”
“I thought people would hate her,” Henson admits. “Because of the things that she says, it was very risky, because that’s a character that if it’s not handled correctly, it would turn the audience off.”
Henson became the first African-American woman to win a Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series for her role on “Empire.” She also won a Golden Globe Award, and was nominated for two Emmy Awards, in 2015 and 2016.
Last year, Time named Henson one of the 100 most influential people in the world on the annual Time 100 list. She also released a New York Times best-selling autobiography titled “Around the Way Girl.”
There is one thing Taraji would like to do before “Empire” comes to an end, and that is direct an episode of the series.
“I feel like I will, but the bug hasn’t hit me yet,” she says when asked if she’d like to direct. “It’s a lot of work. Our show is deep. There are musical numbers. It’s daunting. I don’t know if I could be in it and direct, but that feels like something I should do because I’m an actress and I’m on a television show and you should. Why not? So the answer is yes. I want to learn more.”
Season 4 of “Empire” kicks off March 22 on Fox.