USA Today has named Taraji P Henson the Entertainer of the Year. I love this choice. I suspect Duana might love this choice, not only because it’s Taraji, but because Taraji’s accomplishment is directly tied to television. Usually these titles are bestowed upon the actors in the movies. Because it’s always been all about the movies. So this decision by USA Today to go with a woman from TV feels fresh. And “fresh” might be how you’d describe Cookie Lyon’s takeover. Empire is nothing without Cookie, without Taraji. No one else is delivering the line “That’s my name, take a bite!” and keeping you on the channel.

Taraji was recognised for her work with the Critics Choice Best Actress award in May. In June she covered W:

That month, while participating in the Hollywood Reporter TV Actress Drama roundtable she talked about working on a TV movie for Lifetime not too long ago, and stressing about her lines, overthinking a scene. In a Lifetime movie. As Duana pointed out, these are the people who really know about the work – because the work isn’t just about features directed by Oscar-winning auteurs who will only shoot for 90 minutes a day to get the right light. The work can take you to the Oscars and the Globes but the work is also, for many – for most – on Lifetime, on Hallmark, and f-ck yeah, she’s proud of that too.

When Taraji covered EBONY in September, some people criticised her for her big talk.

She was asked when was the last time she used to her celebrity status to get something. Her response: 

“To get my fat ass into a restaurant. If someone tells me there’s a wait, I’ll walk right to the front of the line like, “I need a table now. I need to eat, and I want this. So let’s work this out.”

Blake Lively’s been on the cover of VOGUE three times. This year, when Blake’s business, Preserve, shut down, she was given the luxury of announcing her business failure with a post on, all while promising that her business’s upcoming reinvention would be a major improvement. So Cookie Lyon might be pulling the “do you know who I am?” card, but she’s still pulling it out herself, negotiating for herself. There’s nobody lining up to help her…

Although she admitted, cheekily, to USA Today in the Entertainer of the Year interview, things are finally changing: 

"Upsides? I don't wait in line for anything anymore. Upside, now that I'm rich, people like to send me things for free. I don't understand that, but OK, I'll take it." She grins. "I love getting free gifts."

Here’s Taraji, celebrating her big year, in Miami on Monday, holding hands with NFL free agent Kelvin Hayden who is 13 years younger than she is. “Take these cookiieess!”

Click here to read the USA Today profile on Taraji P Henson, Entertainer of the Year.