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Empire wouldn’t be half as good if it weren’t for Taraji P. Henson, who plays tough Cookie Lyon – the head of the Lyon family household. And it makes sense, because it almost cost her everything she had to get to this point.

MUST SEE: 9 Facts About Taraji P. Henson Empire Fans Probably Don’t Know

In an interview with People, the Academy Award nominee shared her success story, how she stays grounded, and what her son. Marcel thinks about his television star mom.

On moving to Los Angeles at 26:

“My dad knew that acting was my calling. One day, he looked at me and said, ‘How do you expect to catch fish on dry land?’ So I moved out here with my son with $700 in our pocket.”

On how she stayed focused:

“You just have to stay the course and not getting distracted or compare yourself to others. You have to really stay focused and stay grounded.”

On how her son finds her success:

“He’s been with me through this whole process, so he’s known my struggle. He’s very proud because he knows what I’ve been working so hard for,” Henson says of Marcel. “He’s like, ‘Mom, you’re finally getting what you’ve always wanted.’ “

On Empire:

“I just knew we had something special. This is what happens when you have great material and a studio that’s behind it and ready to take a risk – it was the perfect storm.”

Read the rest of her interview here.

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