Photo of Taraji P. Henson Taraji P. Henson

Born in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, 1970, Taraji P. Henson nearly walked away from her childhood dream to become an actress by studying science and engineering instead. But thanks to her father's support, the single mother returned to the craft, paying her way through Howard University's theater program by performing on cruise ships.

Playing a mild-mannered prostitute in the critically acclaimed Hustle & Flow (2005) proved to be a turning point for Henson's career. She also showed off her singing chops on the film's Oscar-winning original song, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp."

Although frequently cast as sassy and spirited women, Henson demonstrated her dramatic range in roles ranging from her larger-than-life portrayal of Don Cheadle's girlfriend in Talk to Me (2007) to her Oscar-nominated turn as Brad Pitt's adoptive mother in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008).

Taraji P. Henson in Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures

2016 PG

In the race to space between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, three black female mathematicians play a key role in launching astronaut John Glenn into outer space, making him the first American to orbit Earth.

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