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Taraji P. Henson on Her Natural Hair: “I Feel Like a Plucked Chicken”

Taraji P. Henson Poses with Natural Hair
Taraji P. Henson shows off her intricate braids in a custom Balenciaga dress and Dior boots.

As the bold and dynamic Cookie on Fox’s Empire, Taraji P. Henson is definitely out there. But in a new photo shoot and personal essay for CR Fashion Book, the actress leaves the wigs (and leopard print) behind, posing in her natural, braided hair. 

Taraji P. Henson as Cookie on Empire
Taraji P. Henson as Cookie on Empire

Related: PHOTOS: Stars best braided red carpet hairstyles

The Empire actress, 45, did not plan on going in cornrows for her photo shoot with the fashion mag, but that’s exactly what ended up happening. “I wear wigs a lot, especially for photo shoots. I have this girl Kendra who braids my hair. She braids so intricately, so beautifully,” Henson wrote in her essay. “So I’m trying on the clothes and the silk scarf I have on my head slips off, and I say, ‘Hey, look at my cornrows, aren’t they beautiful?’ [Famed fashion photographer] Bruce Weber is standing there and goes, ‘We’ll shoot that.'”

Taraji P. Henson in CR Fashion Book 2
Taraji P. Henson in CR Fashion Book

Related: PHOTOS: Taraji P. Henson's best movie and TV roles

The Person of Interest alum met the idea with more than a bit of trepidation. “I go, ‘What? We’ll shoot what?’ And he says, ‘We’ll shoot your hair just like that, it’s beautiful,'” she shared. “Part of me was like, ‘No, no, no, NO!’ This is the hair no one is supposed to see. This is like behind-closed-doors hair. I feel naked. I feel like a plucked chicken… or a wet one. A baby chicken!”

Taraji P. Henson in CR Fashion Book
Taraji P. Henson in CR Fashion Book

Related: PHOTOS: Celebs with braided hair

But once she got used to the concept, she saw the beauty in it. “Bruce says to me, ‘It’s not about the hair, it’s your face.’ So I just decided to trust the artist’s vision. As an actress, that’s what we do. We are vulnerable every time we put our art out there,” she wrote. “Underneath that hair is my soul, and it’s me, it’s mine.”

Related: PHOTOS: Dramatic celebrity hair makeovers

The shoot that followed was raw. Henson shimmied against a wall in a custom black Balenciaga dress and Dior heels with the word “Cookie” written above her head, embraced her Empire costars in a fluffy robe, and even censored her chest from the camera in a sheer bodysuit — all in gritty, black and white film.

Which look is your favorite?  Tweet with @UsWeekly using the hashtag #stylebyUs!

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