Famous for her role as ‘Cookie’ in Empire, the TV drama series, that made her the first African-American woman to win a Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series, Taraji P. Henson is just as lovable and inspiring as ‘Cookie’. What many don’t know is that stardom did not come easy for Taraji, she worked hard to get where she is today. She juggled two jobs to pay for college, graduated after giving birth to her son, and walked across the stage with him on her hip.

Despite being told that she was never going to make it in Hollywood at her age, Taraji never listened to people. And now she’s one of the most influential actresses on television. She knows what it is to struggle, persevere, and succeed, and that struggle is something all of us can relate to in one way or another. Her strength is admirable, and if that wasn’t enough, her words are a source of inspiration to young people, both men and women.

As she celebrates her birthday today, we will be looking at some of her most inspiring quotes.

  • Challenging us to dream – “I was dreaming since I came out of the womb.” – Taraji P. Henson
  • Urging us to pursue our goals fearlessly – “If you listen to people and you allow people to project their fears onto you, you won’t live.” – Taraji P. Henson
  • Compelling us to be in control of our lives – “It all starts with you. You’re the temple and you have control. You’re in a bad situation? It’s up to you to get out of it. You can’t give another human the responsibility of your happiness.” – Taraji P. Henson
  • Teaching men how to treat women – “A woman is gentle, soft, delicate, and a man’s position is to protect her, help her up stairs, make sure she’s in the car safely first. Take care of your woman and the sky’s the limit.” – Taraji P. Henson
  • Reminding us of who is in control of our (individual) lives – “It’s up to you to be responsible for how you feel if you’re not happy. Your happiness lies in your hands. You can’t rely on a man to make you happy or complete you. That starts with you.” – Taraji P. Henson

  • Telling us to be happy – “I don’t harp on the negative because if you do, then there’s no progression. There’s no forward movement. You got to always look on the bright side of things.” – Taraji P. Henson
  • Teaching us to have a positive mindset – “Humans have a light side and a dark side, and it’s up to us to choose which way we’re going to live our lives. Even if you start out on the dark side, it doesn’t mean you have to continue your journey that way. You always have time to turn it around.” – Taraji P. Henson
  • Reminding us to love – “We win. Love wins. Every time.” – Taraji P. Henson
  • Urging us to empathize – “Every human walks around with a certain kind of sadness. They may not wear it on their sleeves, but it’s there if you look deep.” – Taraji P. Henson
  • Reminding us to never forget who we are – “At the end of the day, I stand by who I am. I’m a good person.” – Taraji P. Henson

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