I enjoy the stories of Hollywood starlets being discovered in a malt shop and skyrocketing to fame overnight as much as the next person. I enjoy them the same way I enjoy the fairy tales of dragons and unicorns I used to tell my son when he was a little boy. But in reality, most overnight sensations are 10, 15 and even more years in the making. Success doesn’t take luck at a malt shop, it takes the courage to work at your craft for years. It takes perseverance.
This Mother’s Day, as I celebrate my mother Bernice and my grandmother Patsy, I am thankful for the lessons of perseverance that they taught me. They teach in the very best way, by example!
Because I listened to my mother and grandmother and watched how they lived, I was not afraid to pursue my dreams. I have fans from so many different moments in my career. It’s funny to hear critics talk about a particular film as the film that gave me my “start” in the business. A lot of young fans were introduced to my work in 2010 with the Karate Kid. Some people will swear that I didn’t start working until The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in 2008 or Baby Boy in 2001.
Without a doubt, these films are milestones in my career. But those films only happened because of the countless hours of hard work and taking one opportunity that lead to another and another. As a theatre arts major at Howard University, in my hometown Washington, D.C., I was laying that groundwork for the Curious Case Benjamin Button Oscar nomination. The inspiration for my character in that film comes from my mother and grandmother. They both taught me about unconditional love and that is the spirit of Queenie.
There are a lot of lessons I learned from the strong, kind, and passionate women in my life. My mother and grandmother taught me about courage and perseverance and love. Follow your dreams whatever they are. Keep going. Keep positive. Keep loving. Encourage others.
Happy Mother’s Day to my beautiful Bernice and Patsy. And pass me another piece of Patsy’s Peach Pie. God bless you both.
Taraji P. Henson is an Emmy and Academy Award nominated actor. Her commentaries can be found on the Speak Easy Speakers blog at http://www.SpeakEasySpeakers.com.