Taraji P. Henson’s Top 10 Rules For Success Teaser: If you don’t fight, go after with such tenacity your goals in life, what are you leaving a significant other to admire about you?
If you hang out with somebody with a dark cloud, the rain going to get you eventually. So you go over there somewhere with your little dark cloud, ’cause I like the sun.
I didn’t hear the naysayers when they were like, you’re too old to go to California. If you don’t hit by 25, you’re not going to make it. I will be 46 this year. I am just touching the surface.
– Taraji P. Henson
Evan: She began her Hollywood career in several guest roles on TV shows before making her big breakthrough in Baby Boy, winning a Golden Globe Award, and has been nominated for two Emmy Awards.
Also released a New York Times bestselling autobiography titled Around the Way Girl.
She’s Taraji P. Henson, and here’s my take on her top 10 rules for success.
Rule number one is my personal favorite, and I’d love to know which one you guys like the best.
Also guys, as you’re watching, if you hear something that really resonates with you, please leave it down in the comments below and put quotes around it so other people can be inspired.
And when you write it down, it’s much more likely to lock in for yourself as well. Enjoy.
= TARAJI’S RULES =-
- Take risks.
- GO For It!.
- Overcome your ego.
- Ignore your fears.
- Focus on your passion.
- Be a fighter.
- Take control of your life.
- Surround yourself with good energy.
- Embrace the challenges.
- Chase your dream.
Taraji P. Henson Rule #1: Take Risks
Reporter: What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken that you feel has paid off?
The biggest risk I’ve taken that has paid off, I might have to say Cookie. I mean, I was very nervous when I received the script.
She wasn’t the most likable character, and I’ve played some pretty edgy characters, but this one was particularly a challenge becvause it was primetime network television, and I wasn’t sure how people would receive her. I mean, she beat her son with a broom, even though he deserved it.
She called one son a ‘faggot.’
I mean, it was scary, but I’m the type of artist that if the role doesn’t scare me, I don’t want it, ’cause it’s not going to change me as a person. So I took a risk, and that’s what you do as artists. You jump in feet first and you see where it goes, and I knew that we had something special. I don’t just jump feet first for any project.
This was something special.
I knew that what Fox was trying to do, what Lee Daniels and Danny Strong were trying to do and what I was trying to do was shake up television. It’s too safe.
You know, life is not safe, and I think we did that with this show. So I’m so proud to be a part of this project and I’m so proud that Fox believed in us and took a chance, ’cause that’s what art is about, isn’t it? Taking chances, taking risks.
“I took a risk, and that’s what you do as artists. You jump in feet first and you see where it goes” – Taraji P. Henson
Taraji P. Henson Rule #2: Go For It!
I’m graduated college and I have, you know, this degree in fine arts, and my dad saw me coming and going to work every day, and he was like, what are you doing?
I was like, making a living. What are you talking about? And I was in a transitional period, because my son’s father and I, we had just broken up and I had this degree and I was just living.
My dad saw it and he was like, “How do you expect to catch fish on dry land?” And I was like, what are you, he always spoke in metaphors. I was like, can you just speak plain English?
He was like, “How are you going to get acting jobs when they’re not here?”, “You need to go to LA where the jobs are.” So my family threw a party.
We were broke.
They raised $700 and I moved to LA, and I took my son and my dad, may he rest in peace, he was like, maybe you should leave Marcell here. And I was like, I’m not leaving my son.
That’s my kid. Then I got out and freaked out and I was like, maybe I should send him back. And my dad was like, no, that’s your blessing. He’s your blessing, he’s going to keep you focused. You were right, your instinct was right. You should’ve taken him. So $700 and my son is now 21. He’s in school now.
Taraji P. Henson Rule #3: Overcome Your Ego
Yeah, I don’t want people to get upset. It’s not that I expected to be paid as much as Brad Pitt or Cate Blanchett. I understand, I’m just, I’m new to the game.
But what we were asking for didn’t seem like an astronomical amount, you know what I mean? It was fair for me where I was that time in my career. And they didn’t come back with that.
“I had let ego take control of that, I wouldn’t have taken the job and I would’ve missed my moment. So I had to set pride aside, Suck it up, and I had to bite my tongue a lot, and I just had to stay focused on the bigger picture.” – Taraji P. Henson
Interviewer: They didn’t.
We were heartbroken. But see, that’s when you have to check your ego, ’cause if I had let ego take control of that, I wouldn’t have taken the job and I would’ve missed my moment. So I had to set pride aside, Suck it up, and I had to bite my tongue a lot, and I just had to stay focused on the bigger picture.
Interviewer: But that’s smart business.
Taraji P. Henson Rule #4: Ignore Your Fears
Interviewer: You do?
I’m human. Absolutely.
Interviewer: You look like you just, you go up there and you’re not even worried.
Well, there’s a moment where there’s a fear that arises, and I check it. It’s not that I ignore it. I go, okay, that’s fear, and-
You know, I’m a faith-based person and that’s everything.
I live in faith-
Interviewer: High five, high five.
Yeah, so, faith and fear can’t-
“There’s a moment where there’s a fear that arises, and I check it. It’s not that I ignore it. I go, okay, that’s fear, and ….I’m a faith-based person and that’s everything.” – Taraji P. Henson
They can’t live-
So when it comes up, you know, I just check it. I go, oh okay, I recognize that-
Interviewer: Got it.
But that’s not where I live.
Interviewer: You’re not going to live by it.
Interviewer: Fear is not an option.
And that’s what nervousness is. That’s what that energy is. It’s that moment to choose to give into that nerve or to rise above, you know, so we battle that every day as humans. I am human. I’m not a robot.
Interviewer: I love that you realized that that’s a choice.
Taraji P. Henson Rule #5: Focus On Your Passion
Interviewer: Because everybody kept asking me, what does it feel like, what does it feel like? When you get the nomination, that little girl from Washington, D.C., what did it feel like when you heard your name?
“If you’re passionate about your work, all of the accolades will come.” – Taraji P. Henson
Mine was a rollercoaster ride. I was nominated for this and wasn’t for that. You know, so I really put it out of my head, ’cause I don’t really do what I do for the awards. You know, like you said, if you’re passionate about your work, all of the accolades will come.
Interviewer: That’s right.
You got to stay focused on what God put you on earth to do.
So that’s number one.
Taraji P. Henson Rule #6: Be a Fighter
So I finally get to LA, graduate, I have a kid in college, and I have to pursue my dream– because if I don’t, what am I teaching my son? So I moved to California with $700 in my pocket and my toddler. And I have to fight the good fight, because people are telling me I can’t. You can’t do this, you can’t. Are you crazy? You’re moving to California with your son? You’ll never make it.
I was 26 when I decided to come here. There’s the age thing. Oh, you’re too old. If you listen to people, and if you allow people to project their fears onto you, you won’t live. What if I believed those people who told me that when I became pregnant in college that I wouldn’t finish?
“I have to fight the good fight, because people are telling me I can’t. You can’t do this, you can’t. Are you crazy? You’re moving to California with your son? You’ll never make it. I was 26 when I decided to come here. There’s the age thing. Oh, you’re too old. If you listen to people, and if you allow people to project their fears onto you, you won’t live.” – Taraji P. Henson
I walked across that stage with my son on my hip and I collected my degree, my diploma, didn’t hear the naysayers when they were like, you’re too old to go to California. If you don’t hit by 25, you’re not going to make it. I will be 46 this year, I am just touching the surface, I am just getting started.
Taraji P. Henson Rule #7: Take Control Of Your Life
If you don’t know how to take care of yourself or care for yourself first, you know, how are you going to teach someone else to? You know, if you don’t fight, go after with such tenacity your goals in life, what are you leaving a significant other to admire about you? It all starts with you, you know.
“Everything in life that’s coming to you is going to come through you. It starts inside of you.” – Taraji P. Henson
You’re the temple and you have control. 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. You know, my father told me a long time ago, he said, “Life is choice-driven,” and we’re talking about a man who had a very rocky past.
And you know, once he had his epiphany in life, when he gave his life to Christ and, you know, he started seeing life in a more optimistic lens, and that’s when he hit me with it. “Taraji, you know, life is choice-driven. “I made some bad choices in life, but that doesn’t mean I can’t change, I can’t change my mind to make better choices for myself.” So that’s something that I live by.
Taraji P. Henson Rule #8: Surround Yourself With Good Energy
You got to have fun. You got to laugh to keep from crying, ’cause there’s a lot going on in this world. And I really like to laugh a lot. And I think, you know, people are like, you look so young. I laugh a lot.
I laugh at myself, I don’t take myself too seriously. And like I said, I surround myself with good energy, ’cause energy is transferrable. If you hang out with somebody with a dark cloud, the rain going to get you eventually. So you go over there somewhere with your little dark cloud, ’cause I like the sun.
Taraji P. Henson Rule #9: Embrace The Challenges
I usually don’t turn, I don’t run from things that scare me. That usually means I should do it. If I feel too confident, it’s like I could do this with my eyes closed, then I’m not servicing my fans, the script, the project, or the character. Why do it? Somebody else out there more hungry might bless it better. You know, so I, yeah, I love challenges.
Taraji P. Henson Rule #10: Chase Your Dream
What I love about art is you have to take risks, and that’s the work that sticks out, the stuff that’s not so safe. I sang about pimps and whores at the Oscars, I did. I sang It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.
Yeah, they won. My manager calls and he’s like, “I have this script,” you know, and I was like, what is it? And he’s like, “It’s a pilot.” I was like, for TV? Didn’t I tell you I’m done with TV? So he’s like, “Read it.” I read it, I’m like, this is stupid.
Ugh, hip-hop. Dumb, dumb, du-dumb-dumb. Ooh, ooh, oh my God, oh my God, oh my God. And then that fear thing comes up, and it’s like, okay, well, clearly this is a challenge. Oh my God, Cookie.
We’re going to piss so many people off.
And then once I wrapped my mind around how to deal with Cookie, tell her truth, you know, tell the why she’s this woman, why she hit her son with the broom, if you stick to the truth, people will love her. They set up a Skype session with Lee.
“What I love about art is you have to take risks, and that’s the work that sticks out, the stuff that’s not so safe.” – Taraji P. Henson
Well, yeah, I knew Lee, but I had never worked with Lee. Because, you know, the last time we met was in the audition for Precious, and he wanted me for the teacher, and I was like, well, I want to play Precious. That’s the role, I mean. He thought I was crazy.
I was like, look, you turned Charlize Theron into a monster. But yeah, so that was the last time I saw him on a job, you know, potential job, so he probably still was thinking, oh, this bitch is crazy, I don’t even know if I should call her.
So– he’s in Japan, and we have a Skype session, and you know, I’m not tripping, I don’t care. I don’t have to go back to TV. I’m waiting for my big movie. Spielberg is going to call me for sure, I know. I say to him, I really like this script.
It’s amazing… game-changing. I think, you know, if I can’t do it with Terrence, I’m not interested. I didn’t even have the job.
End of the Skype session, he was like, this bitch just Cookied me. Cookie is the American dream. She started from nothing and now she’s at the top.
Started from the bottom, now we here.
I mean, that’s like, I’m the American dream– I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, you know, I had a passion. I had a dream and I dived in and I went for my dream, and here I am.
Evan: Thank you guys so much for watching. I made this video because Alea Turner asked me to. So if there’s a famous entrepreneur that you want me to profile next, leave it down in the comments below and I’ll see what I can do.
I’d also love to know which of the clips that you heard today had the biggest impact on you. What lesson are you going to take from this and immediately apply to your life or your business? Leave it in the comments below and I’m going to join in the discussion.
Finally, I want to give a quick shout-out to Celia Lopez. Celia, thank you so much for picking up a copy of my book, Your One Word, and for taking that picture and tweeting it out as well. I really, really, really appreciate it and I hope you’re enjoying the book.
So thank you guys so much for watching. I believe in you. I hope you continue to believe in yourself and whatever your one word is. Much love. I’ll see you soon.
Taraji P. Henson
I never really was the actress that said there was no work or la la, ’cause I– look at my resume. I really can’t complain, I’ve been in amazing– amazingly– I’m just an extreme optimist. That’s how I was raised.
I mean, I came from the hood. You can’t be a pessimist coming from the hood if you think you going to make it out. You know, so I just never thought about how bad it was. I was thinking about how can I make a difference? How can I make a change?
And that’s what I focused on. I never thought about, woe is me. It’s so hard. No one gives me a job. You’re going to give me a job. Let me in the room and eventually you’ll pay attention, and I think that’s what people are witnessing now.
I’ve been doing this for a long time and I stayed in my lane, never hated on anyone. I think there’s room for all of us, and I think that’s what people are witnessing, of someone who waited, waited, waited their turn. (laughing)
Thanks so much for reading Taraji P. Henson’s Top 10 Rules For Success 🙂
MORE ABOUT TARAJI: Taraji studied acting at Howard University, receiving praise for playing a prostitute in Hustle & Flow, and a single mother in David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. She has also had an extensive career in television in series such as The Division, Boston Legal and Eli Stone. In 2011 Henson starred in the Lifetime Television film Taken from Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story. She co-starred as Detective Jocelyn Carter in the CBS drama Person of Interest, for which she won an NAACP Image Award. From 2015 onward, she began starring as Cookie Lyon on the Fox drama series Empire. In 2010, she appeared in the comedy Date Night and co-starred in the remake of The Karate Kid. In 2016, Time named Henson one of the 100 most influential people in the world on the annual Time 100 list. She has also executive produced some of her projects such as her 2014 film No Good Deed. She released a New York Times best selling autobiography titled Around the Way Girl.
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