Taraji Henson’s son’s father was murdered & she used to be on welfare

Oscar-nominated for her role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Taraji P. Henson would seem to be on a career-high. Then she gave a very humble interview where she said that even though she’s Oscar-nominated this year, she’s still struggling to find work. Now more of Taraji’s personal story of struggle, murder and hard work is being told.

Taraji was in her third year as a theatre major at Howard University when she became pregnant by her boyfriend, William Johnson. Taraji didn’t drop out of school when she became pregnant, instead finishing her degree. Her son Marcel was born in 1995. His father was brutally murdered in 1997. Star magazine has more:

Taraji P. Henson is earning accolades as Brad Pitt’s mother in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but her real-life story of being a single mom who had to overcome poverty and the murder of her son’s father to make it in Hollywood is even more compelling.

In the Feb. 23 issue of Star — on sale now — we detail the actress’ rough road to stardom, including how she became pregnant by her then-boyfriend William Johnson during her junior year as a theater major in college. The driven mom-to-be continued to perform in school productions — including singing and dancing in Dreamgirls during her second trimester — in hopes of becoming a working actor.

An unexpected pregnancy was one of many challenges, we report in our story. Her son Marcell’s father was violently murdered — and Taraji found herself struggling, so she went on welfare. Fortunately, she had enough strength to see them both through those dark days and her efforts paid off — she’s up for a best supporting Oscar for her Button role on Feb. 22 and 14-year-old Marcell is blossoming in high school.

“Taraji is a wonderful person and an excellent mother,” Marcell’s grandmother, Magrissa Johnson — William’s mom — tells Star.

From Star Magazine

Last night Taraji won the NAACP Image award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Benjamin Button. She is an award-winning actress with an incredible personal story, one that should have been told weeks, if not months ago. I’m serious – if more people had known, she would have been a shoo-in for the Oscar. The Academy loves to give Oscars to people with this kind of personal story of hard work, struggle and trauma. At the very least, I hope she’s an actress we see a lot more of in the years to come.

Taraji Henson is shown at the NAACP Image Awards on 2/12/09. Credit: WENN

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18 Responses to “Taraji Henson’s son’s father was murdered & she used to be on welfare”

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  1. I Choose Me says:

    She looks fab and I wish her all the best. Haven’t seen Benjamin Button so I can’t say whether she deserves an oscar or not but I did see her in Hustle and Flow and she was great in that. If she does win, I hope the offers start coming in. Doubt it though, Hollywood overlooks genuinely talented actresses all the time in favour of ‘actresses’ like Scarjo, Diaz, Alba and Biel, who are known for their mass market sex appeal rather than their talent.

  2. Larissa says:

    I was not struck by her character in TCBB but she pulled off with what they gave her, the writters could have developed more the character , in my opinion!!!!
    Nonetheless,she is a good and deserving actress and I hope ,too, to see more of her in the the future!!!!

  3. M.E. says:

    Oh, she deserves it, with or without her personal story. She had the best performance of the movie, and I’m PICKY.

  4. ebgirl says:

    IMO, she was the best performer in Benjamin Button – she was fantastic in it. I’ve been watching her ever since I saw her in Talk to Me because you could see that she has a lot of talent and a great spirit. I’m glad to hear that she’s overcome her struggles.

  5. buenavissta says:

    She had the hardest role in the movie, acting opposite an animatronic doll for half of it, and she performed amazingly. She’s beautiful, talented and human. What’s not to love?

  6. Ron says:

    She was great in BB and deserved the nod. I had the pleasure of meeting her in December at a screening of the film at Paramount and she is so much fun too. What a great gal and inspiring story.

  7. Judy says:

    Have you ever noticed that so many regulars in ehre cannot say a nice thing about someone without trashing another person in the same sentance.
    They just cannot say, I liked her acting , or she did a great job, there always has to be that , of course she had to act nect to this idiot or this crappy actor, they just cannot give pout a compliment without trashing someone, anyone..

  8. Diva says:

    @ Judy – I’m assuming you’re referring to the “She had the hardest role in the movie, acting opposite an animatronic doll for half of it” remark, because it’s the only one that would fit, and I’m pretty sure buenavista was actually talking about an animatronic doll that was used for the “old baby”, not the actor who played the older Button… that being said, for the most part, you’re right.

  9. Chiara says:

    I thought her role the only part in CCBB worthy of mention. She earned her place for a best supporting Oscar nom.

  10. LondonParis says:

    She absolutely deserves her nomination, at the very least. I’d be happy to see her win the Oscar, as well. She made chills go down my spine and tears come to my eyes at one point. I just adore her.

  11. buenavissta says:

    Thank you Diva, that’s exactly what I meant. BP didn’t physically show up until well into the film. They both were great.

    One of the reasons I enjoy this site is the commentary that is, for the most part, witty, thoughtful and light on the hatred. I try to avoid hatred in general.

  12. Ed says:

    A brilliant performance in Button and down right good person. I hope she wins the oscar and wish her the best !

  13. vdantev says:


  14. BeautifulNahla says:

    I love Taraji! She looked great last night.

  15. AC says:

    I like this site too because the comments are generally funny, witty and insightful.

    I grew up near DC (in the suburbs of Maryland) and my cousin attended Howard, so I kinda feel like I “know” Taraji and where she’s coming from because people in my family have shared her same struggles.

    I wish her the best, no matter the outcome on Oscar night and I hope this is only the beginning of great career for a very talented actress.

  16. doodahs says:

    I agree, Taraji stole the movie with her performance. She is amazing!

    You guys know that the older Brad Pitt was not ‘played’ by anyone – it was a digital face (CG) which is a HUGE reason why BB just won the Best Visual Effects BAFTA (and will likely win the Oscar). The fact that people don’t recognize it as being digital means they did their job.

  17. TxBreed says:

    Taraji Henson is a wonderful actress she performed well in this movie. As she does in other movies like Baby Boy, Hustle and Flow, and The Family That Preys are my favorites. I hope she gets that Oscar!!!

  18. tyasia says:

    she looks so yound but she is really 39 but is so pretty no homo