The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY | TV -

Af­ter her Os­car-nom­i­nated per­for­mance in The Cu­ri­ous Case Of Benjamin But­ton, a cu­ri­ous thing hap­pened to Taraji P. Hen­son: tele­vi­sion bosses fell over them­selves to sign the star.

With the same swag­ger as her lat­est role in Ten’s US drama se­ries, Em­pire, Hen­son cuts to the chase when she talks about the dif­fer­ence be­tween mak­ing it big on the big screen then go­ing small.

“You don’t get much time on tele­vi­sion ... it can be a bit rushed, it feels a bit rushed,” says the 44-year-old.

“You have to cram in eight pages a day.

“In film, you do one page a day, you know, so you can let scenes breathe and mo­ments breathe.”

But her breath­less ex­pe­ri­ence on TV has turned her lat­est gig into a mon­ster hit, pulling record au­di­ences for Fox in the US and mak­ing TV Alis­ters of its cast.

The strength of the show, she says, is it’s good scripts – telling the story of a hip hop fam­ily, em­broiled in in­her­i­tance is­sues, drugs and the kind of drama direc­tor Lee Daniels used to love see­ing on prime-time ‘80s soap Dy­nasty.

Hen­son plays Cookie Lyon, the out­spo­ken ex-wife of mu­sic mogul Lu­cious Lyon (Ter­rence Howard), who has just fin­ished a 17-year stretch in pri­son for drug deal­ing but is mak­ing up for lost time in a dogged pur­suit of her fam­ily’s share of his for­tune.

Sniff­ing a hit, Hen­son de­scribes the show’s rat­ings suc­cess as “the per­fect storm”.

Add to the mix of new tal­ent and sea­soned showrun­ners, is a sound­track not seen since Glee.

“When I read (about the mu­sic), I was like, ‘This is gonna shake up the world, this is go­ing to shake up TV and I wanna be a part of it’.”

Un­like the cov­ers on Glee, though, the Em­pire song list is mostly orig­i­nals, break­ing new artists while boasting cameo ap­pear­ances that read like the Gram­mys guest list.

Taraji P. Hen­son stars in US drama Em­pire.

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