The actress was in junior college when she became pregnant with her son and decided to become a single mom.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on January 8, 2021. It has since been updated.
Empire star Taraji P. Henson is an inspiration for all women. She was just in her junior college when she got to know that she was pregnant. Determined and resilient, the actress refused to back down because of her condition and made her name in the industry as one of the most reliable and talented actresses.
Recently she shared the most heartbreaking moments of her life with the world. During a sneak peek of an episode of her show Peace of Mind With Taraji, she broke down recalling the moment she had to face her son, Marcell with the toughest moment of her life.
Sitting down with co-host Tracie Jade Jenkins and therapist Sierra Hillsman, Henson revealed the time she told her now-26-year-old son Marcell how his father died. "My son's father was suddenly taken, murdered, when he was 9, and I didn't know how to tell him that. I couldn't tell him he was murdered, so I told him he died in an accident."
"Later on in life he found out and he came back to me and was like, 'Why didn't you tell me my daddy was murdered?'" she recalled her son asking her, according to People. "And so then we had to get therapy."
When the academy award-nominated actress asked Hillsman to suggests ways other parents, who find themselves in situations like her, can have such difficult conversations with their children, the therapist advised to "use age-appropriate language." She said, "I would definitely say use age-appropriate language, explaining sometimes there are situations where people do evil things to other people — in this situation, somebody killed your father."
"I didn't have the balls. It wouldn't come out. I hid it..." said the What Women Want actress. Jenkins came to her comfort as she sobbed while recalling her past. "It was in the paper and I didn't know how to tell him. He was stabbed to death, it was the worst way you could die. I just didn't have the words. I didn't know how to tell a 9-year-old."
So, who was Marcell's father, and what happened to him?
William LaMarr “Mark” Johnson and Henson started dating when the actress began attending Howard University. “I had my one bad boy. That was my son’s father, my first love, and he’s not with us, God rest his soul,” according to Heavy. When Johnson was 34 years old, he was murdered.
As per reports, Johnson went to talk to a couple at their apartment after they slashed his friend's tires, in 2003. The court documents revealed that the conversation didn't go well and the husband beat Johnson on his head with a lamp. The wife stabbed him several times. The husband and wife were sentenced to 50 months and 30 months each behind the bars after they were convicted of manslaughter.
Even though the actress and Johnson were not together anymore when the incident happened, the grief was still the same. According to Heavy, Henson told Star Magazine that she and her son "would sit and weep about it. Do I mourn for him? Absolutely. I wish my son had his dad. But sometimes things line up and they have to happen and we don’t know why.”
Henson and her longtime friend Jenkins' Facebook Watch series focuses on breaking the stigma around mental health, especially within the Black community, as per ET Online. "It's a peace of mind. It's educational, it's an opportunity for us to show you, actually, what it looks like inside of a therapist's room," Henson told ET exclusively.
"[We hear], 'Boy, get over it. Man up! Tough it out, strong Black woman.' These things have been passed down, so to even talk about mental health, how do you do that when you've never talked about it? When it's been taboo?"
"'Pray it away, go talk to your pastor.' Those things that get us into trouble that don't allow us to heal from trauma. I mean, think about what we go through as Black people. Police brutality, microaggressions, not being paid equally ... it's a lot. It's a lot to unpack, and we felt like we needed some kind of programming that you didn't have to pay for and makes you feel safe."
Henson said that she's always been "a mental health advocate for the Black community." She is also the creator of the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation that helps people in need with the resources they need, reported People.
Talking about the show, she said, "I'm looking forward to bringing this new talk series to Facebook Watch, where I can continue to create a conversation around an issue that is near and dear to my heart."