Taraji P. Henson: ‘Look at where we are. It doesn’t help my anxiety and depression’

Panel discussion with Helen Mirren, Berlinale 2020

Taraji P. Henson covers the March/April issue of Essence and she is glorious! I love Taraji so much, and yes, I know I say that every time I cover her. But she just seems so cool and real. She dealt with some tough sh-t and I feel like she’s hitting her prime right now, at 49, in so many ways. Her Essence cover profile is about ageing, her engagement, her new line of haircare products for black people, and how she’s doing more advocacy work for mental health resources in the black community. You can read part of the cover story here. Some highlights:

Mental health in the black community: “In the African-American community, we don’t deal with mental health issues. We’ve been taught to pray our problems away. I’m here using my celebrity, using my voice, to put a face to this, because I also suffer from depression and anxiety, and if you’re a human living in today’s world, I don’t know how you’re not suffering in any way.”

On her engagement to fiancé Kelvin Hayden. “I was all on hush because I had to make sure it was forever, honey. We plan to get married this summer. He can’t wait. He’s like, “I want my ring.” I’ve waited my whole life for this moment. It’s not going to be a big show. It’s going to be really small. I’m not going to have a bridal party either. Nice and simple.

Her haircare line: “It’s something I’ve been working on since I started wearing a weave back in the 1990’s. I’m from D.C. We were very serious about our hair—I used to do $20 roller sets in college. That was my McDonald’s money—and I’ve found a solution to a real problem. When I first started getting weaves, I loved my hair, but I just wanted to preserve it because I heard these stories about people losing their edges and your hair thinning out from being in the industry. Also because I have very dense hair, and I was like, Okay, so now I have a problem because I can wash the weave really well and that’ll be clean, but how do I penetrate the weft and get down to the scalp? I know that a lot of women think that just because they have an install that their hair is protected and it’s healthy. You have to clean your scalp first but think about it. If you had dense hair and it’s a scalp product that you’re using, by the time it gets to your root—because I turn into a Chia Pet when my hair gets wet—it’s harder to get to the scalp. So that’s where the tri touch applicator we developed for my line comes in. That’s when I said, “Wow, this is going to be great, not only for people who have installs but also for people who have really thick, dense hair, like the 4C curly girls.”

Getting real about ageing and mental health: “It’s getting harder nowadays. Look at where we are. It doesn’t help my anxiety and depression. It’s a struggle. It’s like after a certain age, the rose-colored glasses come off. And this is the thing I want to really, really discuss and tackle. Women, I know we all are enamored and we’re in love with how Black don’t crack, and we all love the youthfulness, and yes, I’m pushing 50 and we that bitch and all of that. Yes, that’s great, but let’s be real. There are things that happen to us physically and we get so caught up in the aesthetics that we really never talk about perimenopause, menopause. And how that directly affects you mentally. Depression, lows and you not knowing where this s–t is coming from. Yes, we look good, but I had to say something.

[From Essence]

“Yes, I’m pushing 50 and we that bitch and all of that. Yes, that’s great, but let’s be real.” That’s the truth right there. The affirmations are awesome and yay, let’s celebrate ourselves and celebrate ageing and all of that, but let’s also leave space to talk about the realities of it too and how our bodies are going through some sh-t. And I’m so happy that she found a guy who is, like, genuinely thrilled to “land” a woman like Taraji. Anyway, I love her.

Cover and photos courtesy of Essence.

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9 Responses to “Taraji P. Henson: ‘Look at where we are. It doesn’t help my anxiety and depression’”

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  1. minx says:

    I first saw her in Baby Boy, years ago, and she just blew me away. She has such an expressive face, she could crook an eyebrow and convey so much about what that young single mother was going through. I’ve loved her ever since.

  2. Laalaa says:

    Love her!!
    I am only almost 32, and while I feel great and yeah, we that B, but I wish somebody would say out loud some stuff, like – it’s really scary when you realize you are increasingly more of a parent to your own parents – when I see how I have to explain some things to my mum the way she used to explain things to me as a child.. that is scary.

    • Pineapple says:

      LAA LAA it is scary. It is the circle of life. I think it happens so that as an aging human, eventually you might be more accepting of passing away. You (ideally) slowly watch your world change a lot and can better come to terms with passing away. As healthy adults, watching our parents age, it gives us a chance to get used to what aging does, it gives us a chance to pay back our parents from keeping us safe all those years. Hopefully it gives us TIME to appreciate life. Maybe we decide we want to do X or Y before we too are old and infirm.

      Your Mom did something right. XO You are there for her. But it is so, so odd. I remember thinking being an adult was going to be so much fun!!!! Just fun, all the time.

  3. Erinn says:

    I assumed that whole “pray the problems away part” was going to be followed with “and that doesn’t work for everyone. Try therapy – use whatever you have at your disposal” but nope. That could be on the magazine or whatever too for not going into detail, so I won’t complain much about that one – I just felt that it’s a missed opportunity.

    I enjoy her on screen – she’s great at her job, but I can never fully back her after she put her neck out to defend Terrance Howard’s abuse and put anyone criticizing him on blast. I just don’t have time for people pulling the “we all have shit” thing, as if someone being a mouthy teenager is comparable to a grown man putting his hands on a woman.

    • Goldie says:

      You should read the full article. Taraji is a big advocate for mental health, and explains in more depth the work that she’s doing to improve access to mental health services in black communities.

  4. Darla says:

    I fell in love with her in Person of Interest, and when they killed Carter off it was such a shock, I flipped. But I looked online and found out she asked to be written off, another project, possibly Empire? I don’t remember. So then I couldn’t be mad at the producers, but god she was missed on that show.

    • lucy2 says:

      She was so good on POI! I’ve always liked her as an actress, I think she’s incredibly talented. I hope when she’s done Empire and has more flexibility in her schedule, she gets some more great film roles.

  5. Audrey says:

    She is sooo beautiful. She’s the only reason I watched Empire – Cookie and her outfits!

  6. SJR says:

    Hey, we all have depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, jumpy/nerves/worrying happening right now. Hopefully the virus will be slowed/stopped quickly. Terrifying days.