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‘Empire’ Emmy Nominee Taraji P. Henson on Why She Was Afraid to Become Cookie Lyon

Nominee for Best Actress in a Drama Series tells Ryan Seacrest her iconic character ”is the American dream“

It’s been a long if not inevitable road to the Emmy Awards carpet for Taraji P. Henson, as her “Empire” matriarch Cookie Lyon captivated TV viewers for its massive freshman run.

But while Cookie is known for her in-your-face attitude, Henson admitted on the Emmy red carpet that she was apprehensive about auditioning for the now iconic role.

“It was scary but … if you show her pain and her history and where she comes from, you empathize with her,” Henson told Ryan Seacrest. “Cookie represents the American dream. She came from nothing and she built an empire.”

Henson also teased fans about what to expect from the highly-anticipated second season of “Empire” on Fox. “The fashion is to the 10th degree,” the Best Actress in a Drama Series nominee said. “We’re pushing all envelopes, we’re ruffling all feathers.”

The actress previously spoke about Cookie Lyon’s rise to the top of the music industry during a screening of the Season 2 premiere at New York’s famed Carnegie Hall.

“You can say whatever you want about her, about Lucious, about what they did to get where they are, but at the end of the day, their sons are not statistics,” Henson said. “They broke a cycle of poverty. And anybody that’s from the hood knows that is very hard to do.”

The 67th Emmy Awards air live this Sunday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on FOX.

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