(NEW YORK) — Proud Mary star and executive producer Taraji P. Henson can’t say enough about her new action movie, which hits theaters Friday. In the film, the actress plays the titular hitwoman with a heart of gold.
In short, Henson is proud. “I’m really proud of this movie because we haven’t seen an African-American woman starring in a role like this,” Henson tells ABC’s Good Morning America. “We’ve seen bada** sidekicks but not the star of the show, headlining.”
“I don’t think we’ve seen it since the ’70s,” she noted, adding, “Why!?”
As for her character in the film, Henson gushed, “I had the … combat boots … motorcycle jacket and motorcycle pants and I just felt like, ‘Dang, I could really hurt someone!'”
Henson notes that for a 47-year-old actress, a role like this coming her way is particularly rare — not so for male actors: Liam Neeson, for example, is 10 years her senior, and working in the genre. Ditto Sylvester Stallone, who is 71.
“You know, usually women, we get of a certain age, they like to…send us out to pasture,” the Empirestar says of the entertainment industry. “You can rattle off the men, and they get the opportunities time and time again — whether the movie does well or not.”
“But here we are, me, and all my fine girlfriends, who still look good — who still can kick butt, we’re playing the ‘cute girlfriend,’ you know: Time is up!”
Related to that rallying cry combating sexism and gender discrimination, Henson said, “We’re off to a good start. We have a lot of work to do…You have to start with a conversation, you know? You have to start getting those dirty secrets from up under the carpet and let’s talk about it so that we can evoke change.”
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