Taraji P. Henson called for equality in the acting world as she was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Monday, Jan. 28, 2019.
The “Empire” star gave an empowering speech about how she hopes the next generation of female actresses won’t have to fight to get the best roles like she has had to during her 18-year career.
R&B legend Mary J. Blige and her Baby Boy director John Singleton presented Henson with the top honor.
Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, she said: “I fight for roles that will break through glass ceilings so that these young women coming behind me, they won’t have the same narrative that we have.
“We can’t drop the torch now, ladies out there, anybody in the industry, but we also need our men.
“That’s why I love men, I protect them because we need each other. We can’t bash each other, we have to reach across the table and help each other.”
The 48-year-old star — who is engaged to retired American football cornerback Kelvin Hayden — also dedicated her star to her grandmother and admitted she wouldn’t be where she is today without the “prayers” and “unconditional love” she gave her and their family.
When asked about her grandparent, Henson told “Entertainment Tonight,” “You put me on the spot! But, what I love about my grandmother is her unconditional love.
“She taught the family how to love, and she keeps us very close.
“All my cousins and I are really, really close. But of course, she prayed.
“She did a lot of praying and she continues to pray for me, and like I said in my speech, her prayers definitely brought me here. So, my grandmother’s my everything.”
The Hidden Figures star also opened up about her next role in a movie about Emmet Till, a Black teenager who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955, after being accused of offending a White woman in her family’s grocery store.
Henson admitted it will be “bittersweet” and she is “dreading” it “a little bit” — but she is up for the challenge.
She said: “It’s going to be bittersweet, because yes, it’s a story that absolutely needs to be told.
“I’m, like, dreading a little bit having to stay in those places for however long it takes us to film it, but I’m ready for it.
“I’m ready for the challenge, because, again, I do work that hopefully affects and moves humanity forward in a positive way.”