Why Empire’s Taraji P. Henson is our new TV obsession! 

ESSENCE: We love Cookie! What do you love about her?

TARAJI P. HENSON: She’s a mother and a warrior. She is raw, honest, powerful, uncompromising. She’s my shero.

ESSENCE: Empire touches on several hot- button topics—homophobia, the prison system and shadiness in the music industry.

HENSON: I don’t see anybody else touching on it on prime-time network TV. We just assume everybody has cable. Someone tweeted thanking me, Fox and creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong for bringing TV like this to prime time, because otherwise they couldn’t afford it.

ESSENCE: The episodes have started out with a bang. What else can we expect?

HENSON: A lot of jaw-dropping drama. You’re gonna be like, “What? Who?” It’s an emotional roller coaster. Just put on your seat belts.