taraji as cookie (with boa)

*Taraji P. Henson plays Cookie, a mother of three sons not afraid to speak her mind who was recently released from prison on the hit Fox drama, “Empire.”

Cookie wants half of the company from Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), her ex-husband with who she built the empire. She took the fall for him when busted for drug dealing, which seeded the company.

In order to play the outspoken and street wise Cookie, Henson found inspiration from some famous female rappers: Foxy Brown and Lil Kim, according to Vogue.

“Is she influenced by Foxy Brown? Certainly,” Henson said. “That’s where a lot of her style comes from—Salt-N-Pepa, all of that. That era of hip-hop was her heyday, those are the woman she identifies with.”

As for the show, Henson’s happy with the audience it’s able to reach on network TV. She said some fans of the show can’t afford the movies or cable. It’s reaching a larger audience.

“TV became too safe, and it’s hard out there for people who can’t afford to go the movies, can’t afford cable,” Henson added. “People tweet at me, ‘Thank you for bringing this to network because I can’t afford cable.”

Read more at Vogue.