Recently actress Taraji P. Henson won a Golden Globe for best actress in a drama series for her role as Cookie Lyon on Fox’s popular drama Empire, but it was her candid speech that took center stage. After winning the award, Henson’s rebellious refusal to be forced to ‘wrap it up’ by the apparent teleprompter made headlines.
But we can actually learn a few key things about success from her in-your-face- acceptance speech.
Success rarely happens overnight
While it may seem Henson’s rise to fame happened within a blink of an eye, her road to a Golden Globe award has not come without its fair share of challenges and hard work. In fact, since making her debut to the television screen in 1997 on the show Sister, Sister, the 45-year-old has slowly, but steadily accumulated countless roles over the years, including her infamous breakthrough role in Baby Boy, Hustle and Flow and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
In addition to her work ethic, the single mother has overcome insurmountable personal upheavals such as, the passing of her son’s father and financial insecurity.
So it comes as no surprise that, when nudged to speed up her thank you’s, she vehemently replied, “Please wrap? Wait a minute,” she said. “I waited 20 years for this. You’re going to wait.”
Build a strong support system
No man is an island and Henson is no exception. While celebrating her own win, she showed us the importance of creating and maintaining both strong business and personal support systems when she took the time to acknowledge those whose hard work, love and support assisted in her reaching such a height in her career, sharing the spotlight with her manager, publicist, family and particularly her co-star Terrance Howard, stating “I am nothing without you, Cookie is nothing without Lucious, I love you, thank you so much.”
Seize the moment
If I ever win a Golden Globe, I’d definitely want to capture the audience like Ms. Henson. Upon hearing her name as the winner, the Empire star took little time embracing her moment, jubilantly stating, “Cookies for everyone tonight — my treat,” as she shared sweets with Leonardo DiCaprio and Lady Gaga (among others) as a symbolic tribute.
Standing on stage, Henson was beautiful, confident, and fearless. Her remarkable commentary even gently revealed the struggles many African-American actors face, who seem to only be awarded for playing unscrupulous characters, noting “I mean, who knew that playing an ex-convict would take me all around the globe. I thought it would be “Queenie,” Will, my character from Karate Kid…but it’s Cookie, who spent 17 years in jail for selling crack.”