The subjects of Elle magazine's women in TV issue share a common adversary in Hollywood

By Char Adams
Updated January 12, 2016 01:50 PM
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Credit: Dan Martensen

Cookie Lyon is no caricature.

Fresh off her Golden Globes win for best actress in a drama television series, Taraji P. Henson finds herself on the cover of Elle magazine’s Women in TV issue. And the actress says her beloved Empire character is as real as it gets.

“It was very important to me that she not be sassy and neck-rollin’ and eye-bulgin’ and attitude all the time,” Henson says in the February issue.

“Everything she does is coming from a place of fighting for her family,” she explains. “That’s why she’s not a caricature.”

The 45-year-old actress is featured in the annual issue along with Viola Davis, Olivia Wilde, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Priyanka Chopra.

Each woman spoke of a common Hollywood adversary: sexism.

“We’ve been fed a whole slew of lies about women,” Davis, who plays Annalise Keating in How to Get Away With Murder, tells Elle.

“If you are anywhere above a size 2, you’re not having sex,” she says. “You don’t have sexual thoughts. You may not even have a vagina. And if you’re of a certain age, you’re off the table.”

Still, Veep‘s Louis-Dreyfus speaks of changing times.

“Right now there are so many [television] shows on with strong, complicated, powerful, not-so-powerful, interesting human beings who are women,” she says. “And I am thrilled to be playing one of them.”

The actresses are among a slew of women to speak out against double standards in the industry including, Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly, Barbra Streisand and more.

All of the leading ladies have proven to be the actors to watch in 2016, and Quantico star Chopra suggests women – on screen and in real life – should be able to have it all.

“Why should a woman have to pick between global domination and having the love of her life?” she asks.