Taraji P. Henson Recalls Firing Entire Team Who Failed to Capitalize on Popularity of 'Empire' Character Cookie

The 'Empire' actress did not mince her words about her team's failure to get her the roles she deserved after the show.

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Taraji P. Henson revealed that she fired her entire team after they failed to capitalize on the huge popularity of her Empire character, Loretha "Cookie" Lyon.

In a chat for the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, the actress was asked what the "best acting business decision" she's made in her career was. "Firing everybody after Cookie," she instantly replied at the 1:00:40 point of the chat, as seen above. "Everybody had to fucking go. Where is my deal? Where is my commercial? Cookie was top of the fashion game. Where is my endorsement? What did you have set up for after this?"

Following the debut of Empire in 2015, Henson's portrayal of Cookie instantly became a fan favorite thanks to her attitude and fashion. Henson had a hand in the development of the character, but the actress believes she hasn't seen the benefits of Cookie's popularity following the conclusion of Empire in 2020 and was disappointed at the failure to get a spinoff off the ground.

"That's why y'all haven't seen me in so long, they had nothing set up," she said. "All they wanted was another Cookie show and I said I'll do it, but it has to be right. She's too beloved for y'all to fuck it up. And so when they didn't get it right, I was like, 'Well that's it.' And then they had nothing else. 'You're all fucking fired.'"

When Empire ended, it was announced that Henson was developing a Cookie-led spinoff with the show's co-creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong. Ultimately, Fox decided to stop development on the project.

"I'mma say this, though. It took me years to get there because I did have a bit of Stockholm Syndrome," she continued. "You are the prize, don't you ever forget that. You are the talent. You are their check, don't ever forget that. They work for you, and if they're not, somebody else will do it. But I had that for years, 'cause I stayed with the same team for years. I don't have a lot of regrets but that's one thing... There's more to come, so I don't have regrets. I don't have no regrets, I take that back."

Initially, she had people telling her to give it more time, but she felt she had to take action. In the years since the Academy Award-nominated actress has continued to work steadily, most recently appearing in the musical adaptation of The Color Purple.

Her comments come not long after she lamented pay inequality in Hollywood as a Black actress. "I'm just tired of working so hard, being gracious at what I do, getting paid a fraction of the cost," a tearful Henson said in a SiriusXM interview with Gayle King. “I’m tired of hearing my sisters say the same thing over and over. You get tired."

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