Taraji P. Henson, American actress best known for role as Cookie Lyons on the hit TV series Empire spoke for W Magazine about her character in Hidden Figures, the movie that comes in US theaters tomorrow, on 6th January.
Henson is playing a NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, a woman who made fundamental contributions to the US space programs. Asked about whether was harder to do the character or to do the math, 46 years old actress said: “Well, I’m a pretty good actress. You could say that, right? I think that’s why you have me here. But, I can act like I know math but I’m not mathematically wired, and I failed math in college!”
On the surprise of the interviewer, who loved the scenes of her doing the math, Henson confesses she’s still using her fingers for counting! “I swear every time, they actually had a mathematician on set and he’s trying to teach it to me, I said – No, no, no, no! Don’t try and teach it. We’ll be here for ten years. I’m not gonna get it… Show me what I have to write. I’ll memorize it and watch what I do with it… – Yeah, I still use my fingers and I’m not ashamed of it”, said the actress.
Henson told W magazine how she was rejected at the High School of Performing Arts, and she had to decide what to study instead when it came time for college. So, she simply picked… “electrical engineering! It just sounded like I would make a lot of money. I didn’t even consider the math part. So we get there. I’m doing my thing and I got to go to pre-calc and it looks Chinese, so I had two tutors, I think. I still failed.”
The actress explained she quickly realized engineering just wasn’t her dream job, but life had a different plan so she met with the math again! “God has an incredible sense of humor because now I have to play this mathematician.”
“I felt smart for once in my life. There you go, math! Take that! I became an actress”, said Henson.