WATCH: Taraji P. Henson on Viola Davis’ Historic Emmys Win and Her ‘Spirit Animal’ Cookie
Both ladies were nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Henson for her role as the notorious Cookie on Empire and Davis for her incredible role as Annalise Keating on How to Get Away with Murder. But ultimately it was Davis who nabbed the Emmy, becoming the first black actress ever to do so.
Henson told Ellen Degeneres,
It was bittersweet, you know what I mean, because we all want to make history and be important to society and everything, but then I thought about it. I was like it’s 2015 and we have a black president and no black woman has ever won. Like this is weird.
So when I went into it and I knew I was being nominated along side of Viola I just thought to myself God just please give it to one of us so we will never have to say that again. Ya know, let’s just break this barrier down and keep on pushing. I think the universe is happy Viola deserved that award. And honestly I would have felt weird if I had gotten it over her. Ya know what I mean. She’s been doing it longer. You just got to give respect and know when your time is.
And what an incredible moment it was. When Davis’ name was announced, Henson jumped out of her seat with excitement (as did we all!):
The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.
Henson and Degeneres also joked about what Cookie would say in a game created just for Henson. On what’s scripted or not scripted, Henson says “I can’t control it…it’s literally like a possession. This character is using my vessel as its voice.”
Empire (and more importantly, Cookie) returns on Wednesday 9/8c Sep 23 on Fox.