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“Empire” star Taraji P. Henson opens up to UPTOWN about making her mark in Hollywood and building her own empire–after she checked her ego about being jealous of other actresses. Meanwhile, LeBron James covers The Hollywood Reporter and talks about extending his brand (and success) into a slew of Hollywood projects, plus that “cop talk” he had to have with his sons. More inside…

YBF starlet Taraji P. Henson covers the Feb/Mar issue of UPTOWN where she stars in an super sexy pictorial (captured at her Hollywood home) and shot by Gomillion & Leupold.

In the mag’s accompanying article “The Empire Taraji P. Henson Built,” Taraji, in her surprisingly candid way, talks about race and diversity in Hollywood, a visible shift in television opportunities for Black actors and her hit show “Empire”. And the show’s critics.

Check the highlights and more fabulous pics…

On “Empire” Exposing “Black” Issues: “That’s what art is supposed to do: expose this shit. You know, we’re dealing with subject matter that’s not really dealt with…so let’s lift the carpet up and deal with this dirt. It’s not like we bashed Barack Obama and the show went off. No, Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) jumped in his [son’s] ass. That’s real life stuff. So I’m glad you’re mad.”

On Being Cookie Lyons: “Cookie is a lot. She wears me out but I know this woman. I’ve done my research inside and out. I took Cookie from Lee and made her my own.”

On Black Actors Making Moves On The Small Screen: “It feels good that there’s not just one black person. I don’t like that we get fixated on one or two at a time, or three at a time. If you look at Caucasian Hollywood, every year there’s a handful of new faces you’ve never seen before, then after that, they got five movies coming out and they’re introducing you to more talent. So I’m just so happy to see what’s happening on television right now. We have options and that’s how it should be.”

On Jealously and Putting Her Ego in Check: “I used to have this crazy thing with Amy Adams…You see her [consistently] getting nominated, as she should, because Amy does good work. But, it’s like, ‘Well, I did good work too.’ But if you choose to stay in that place then you become miserable. It’s a pity party and nobody cares. I’m human, so I’ve done it. But I check that because it’s ego and it’s the devil.”

On Owning Her Success And “This” Moment: “I’ve come a long way from ‘Aye, that’s that girl from Baby Boy’ to now people know how to pronounce my name. But I’m just scratching the surface. For whatever reason, God gave me this life, and I’m not gon’ fuck it up.”

Also on newsstands…

In a cleverly titled article, “The Next Decision” LeBron James sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss his next decisions and they don’t involve basketballs (unless you count his tv show “Survivor’s Remorse”).

With his Spring Hill Productions (named for the housing complex he and his mom moved into when he was in sixth grade) he’s quietly developed a growing a portfolio of TV and digital projects which he OWNS and exercising creative control. They include the Disney series “Becoming”; the Starz scripted dramedy “Survivor’s Remorse”; the reality show “Uninterrupted” for Turner’s digital platform Bleacher Report; a trivia game-show pilot for NBC and a series show on CNBC. There’s even talk of a “bucket list” for Esquire. Clearly….King James won’t end up on some ESPN show as a broke athlete….unless he’s the executive producer. #catchit

LeBron explained that a large part of Spring Hill Productions is about creating jobs and opportunities for deserving artists. “For me to be able to create jobs and opportunities for people…that means a lot to me.” Read the full article here and check out some highlights:

On retirement: I look at some of my peers, Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett, guys I’ve looked up to my whole career, and they’re almost done with their careers. So you think about it for sure. You know at some point that will be you.”

On the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by Cleveland cops: I have those conversations with my boys,” he says. “They have tons of play guns. None of them look real. We have Nerf guns that are lime green and purple and yellow,” he says. “But I don’t even let them take them out of the house.

On what he tells his boys about the cops (with Savannah James): “And the talk is, ‘You be respectful, you do what’s asked and you let them do their job, and we’ll take care of the rest after. You don’t have to boast and brag and automatically think it’s us against the police.’ I’ve had one or two encounters with the police in my life that were nothing. But sometimes you just got to shut up. It’s that simple. Just be quiet and let them do their job and go on about your life and hopefully things go well.” “For everybody,” (adds Savannah).

Photos via Gomillion & Leupold/Martin Schoeller

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