Taraji Penda Henson turns 49 years old today. Here are five fun facts about the famous actress. 1. Henson made her acting debut on an episode of 'The Parent 'Hood.'. 2. Her signature chili dish is a favorite for Mary J. Blige. 3. Like her character’s name on 'Empire,' her college nickname was Cookie. 4. Henson is related to North Pole explorer, Matthew Henson. 5. She made her singing debut in ‘Hustle & Flow.’. Happy Birthday, Taraji P. Henson!