Taraji Penda Henson reigns as Cookie Lyon in the hit TV series Empire (2015 till present) but she wasn’t always a movie legend. The young Henson initially set her heart on a career in show business but changed her mind after she was turned down by an acting programme and began studying electrical engineering. She failed a pre-calculus in her first year then transferred to another University to study theatre arts.
Date of Birth: September 11, 1970
Zodiac Sign: Virgo
The star actress from The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons (2008) is no doubt one of the most beloved actresses in Hollywood. She is a multi-award winning actress and is also the first African-American woman to win a Critic’s Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series. Keep scrolling to know all there is to know about the family life of Hidden Figures (2016) star.
Bernice Ballard Gordon (mother)
She was first in a horrible marriage with Boris but eventually divorced her physically-abusive husband then raised her daughter as a single mom. It is no surprise that Bernice is Taraji’s hero as her mother taught her by her actions how to persevere and never give up. They struggled through life, living from check to check and Bernice is super proud of her daughter’s achievements against all odds. She is now married to Vernon Gordon.
Boris Lawrence Henson (father)
Date of Birth: January 12, 1948
Date of Death: February 19, 2006 (aged 58)
Zodiac Sign: Capricorn
Growing up in a crime-riddled neighbourhood was indeed tough for Taraji. She recalled in her memoir how when she was 4, her father dragged her mother by the hair into his car threatening to kill her. This was just one of the many violent episodes between her parents until they went their separate ways.
Boris who was a janitor, metal fabricator and also a Vietnam veteran died at 58 after battling liver cancer. When she was little, Taraji knew just very little about the dynamics of her parents’ relationship and even added that despite the divorce, her father was a constant and positive presence throughout her childhood. It was only when she grew older she knew all that happened between her both parents
Boris had been married to Angela Henson till his death in 2006.
Patsie “Patsy” Ballard (nee Debrew) (maternal grandmother)
Date of Birth: April 18, 1924
Zodiac sign: Aries
Willie Loyd Ballard (maternal grandfather)
Date of Birth: September 20, 1922
Date of Death: April 7, 2005 (aged 83)
Zodiac sign: Virgo
He married Taraji’s grandmother Patsy in 1942 and they became a parents to 6 daughters and 3 sons.
Shawn Henson (younger brother from same parents)
April MzCockee Henson (younger sister from same parents)
There is nothing that can be said about Taraji’s siblings, except their names.
William “Mark” LaMarr Johnson (late ex-boyfriend)
Date of Birth: January 24, 1969
Date of Death: January 25, 2003 (aged 34)
Zodiac Sign: Aquarius
Henson was 17 when she met Johnson in the lobby of a movie theatre in 1987. In no time, the two were in puppy love and they dated on and off again while the Proud Mary (2018) actress was in college. He had a good heart, loved her, made her laugh and before they knew what was happening, she had become pregnant.
After their baby arrived, the butterflies in her tummy gave way to heated arguments and screams that eventually became physically violent. The Baby Boy (2001) actress found strength in her father’s honesty with her and was able to tell Johnson off but allowed him to be a part of their son’s life until he was tragically murdered the day after his 34th birthday in 2003.
Kelvin Hayden (fiancé)
Duration of Relationship: 2015 till present
Date of Birth: July 28, 1983
Zodiac Sign: Leo
Kelvin is the NFL player for the Chicago Bears. He dated the seasoned actress for over two years then they got engaged on May 13, 2018. Henson took to her Instagram account to announce that she’s said yes to her former Super Bowl star boyfriend.
Marcell Johnson (son with William Lamarr Johnson)
Date of Birth: May 10, 1994
Zodiac Sign: Taurus
Marcell is the only son to the Acrimony (2018) star and he came at an “odd” time for the young starlet. She had just embarked on her theatre arts course at Washington Howard’s University when motherhood came calling. Taraji was not only determined to keep her baby; she also refused to miss a beat when it came to her performance schedules.
He has appeared alongside his mum in several episodes of the popular Fox series Empire (2015 till present) and also starred in Needlestick (2016). Mother and son share a really special bond as there’s just two of them.