How Taraji P. Henson became an actress and created a hair care line.

"Empire" actress Taraji P. Henson recently launched her own hair care line for every type of hair.


"Empire" actress Taraji P. Henson recently launched her own hair care line for every type of hair.

Our series “How I became a …” digs into the stories of accomplished and influential people, finding out how they got to where they are in their careers.

Taraji P. Henson has been a mainstay on both the small and big screens for well over 20 years, dominating movies and TV as multifaceted characters like NASA scientist Katherine Johnson in “Hidden Figures” and the powerful Cookie Lyon in Fox’s “Empire.” The award-winning actress also has a huge passion for hair care. She recently launched her line TPH by Taraji, which hit Target stores on January 29 as a product line for every type of hair.

USA TODAY caught up with the author, entrepreneur, hair maven, and actress to talk about everything from doing wet sets in her dorm room and creating her own affordable hair care line to the pain of losing her mentor John Singleton and the vital importance of studying and living out the true craft of acting.

Question: How did you get your start?

Taraji P. Henson: I was always a ham as a kid. I felt the acting bug bite me when I sang at my kindergarten graduation – I did something funny, the audience laughed, and I said ‘I like this.’ It happened again in the fifth grade. I was so rambunctious and outgoing, like baby magic, and my fifth grade teacher was smart enough to channel that energy into the arts. She put me in my first class, and I just took to it. I kind of dibbled and dabbled with it all of my life, and as a teenager, I auditioned for the Miss Talented Teen pageant in D.C. and I got first runner-up. Then I auditioned for Duke Ellington School of the Arts, they didn’t accept me, and that’s when I thought acting was over for me.


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