'Empire' 's Taraji P. Henson Talks Auditioning to Be Olivia Pope and Her Trick to Keeping Sex Scenes Professional

After missing out on one role, the actress found another that has "stolen" her life – and she couldn't be happier about it

Photo: Nicole Wilder/ABC

Taraji P. Henson is no longer Taraji P. Henson. And she’s thrilled about that!

But before the actress became known to America as Cookie (her character on Fox’s breakout hit Empire), she had her sights set on another name: Olivia Pope.

The Oscar nominee, 44, told Angie Martinez on her Power 105.1 radio show that she auditioned to play Scandal‘s Beltway fixer, but she knew it was a long shot.

“When I went in to read for Shonda Rhimes, in my mind I was like, ‘This is Kerry Washington. Why am I even in here?’ It was hers. It was her job, and she’s great in it.”

Three years later, Henson has landed an even better part – and more notoriety than she ever would have expected. Or, as the actress put it: “Cookie’s stolen my life.”

As for her time off the streets and on set, Henson had plenty to say about that, too – specifically, a rather, ahem, unique strategy for making sure costar Terrence Howard doesn’t get carried away during bedroom scenes.

“You have to keep them professional. They can’t help if they get aroused,” she said. “Every time we lay there, he kept talking to his little male member . Every time he would get on top of me I would say [in a baby voice], ‘Daddy, why are you on top of me? Where is Mommy? Why is the door closed?’ And it worked!”

How Taraji P. Henson Turned $700 into Her Own Empire

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