Taraji P. Henson does not mince words when describing the Washington, D.C., in which she grew up. “Honey, I’m from the hood,” she remarked during a visit to her hometown in December. “Crack. Murders. Whole neighborhoods going under in a flash.” Consider it a testament to Henson’s most dominant traits—her ferocity, her resolute optimism, her unshakable philosophy that life is something to be conquered—that she hardly seemed to find it remarkable to be recalling her hard knock roots from a decidedly more rarefied perch in the nation’s capital. Inside a suite at the Four Seasons, she was curled up on a couch in a supple white robe, treating herself to a manicure, sipping a Veuve Clicquot mimosa, two days away from screening her latest movie, Hidden Figures, for Barack and Michelle Obama at the White House. “This is the life I always saw for myself,” she went on. “You have to see yourself inside the dream, you know? Why you gonna do something to fail? No, baby, that ain’t me! I always wanted to be one of the big dogs.”
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