Black Celebrities

Why Taraji Henson’s First Encounter With Mary J. Blige Ended With A Slap?

By: Giovanni Zaburoni

“Empire” star Taraji P. Henson is getting ready to release her new memoir called “Around The Way Girl” where she details her road to success in Hollywood, her experience working as a Black actress, and her encounters with other celebrities.  One such encounter involved her friend Mary J. Blige and it turns out their relationship didn’t start out on a high note.  

According to Bossip, Taraji says she first met the legendary singer at a Grammy party.  When she walked up to Mary, she like many other people in her position fanned out.  She started gushing over her and all her accomplishments but Mary was not impressed.  According to Taraji, the singer “turned her back” on her and waved her off dismissively.  Taraji says she didn’t let that awkward interaction deter her from trying to speak with Mary later during the same event.  She says she spotted Mary on the dance floor and decided to try and get her attention again.  Taraji walked over to her again and tapped her on the shoulder.  That’s when she says, “Before I could withdraw my hand, her sister, LaTonya, smacked the crap out of my arm.”

Obviously, Taraji was not the well-known superstar she is today and neither Mary nor her sister Latonya knew who she was, nor did they care.  She was just another person, probably in a long line of people who was trying to get Mary’s attention that night and while Taraji remembers that encounter as Mary and her sister being rude to her and also assaulting her, Mary probably doesn’t even really remember it.  This is why it’s important to try and be nice to everyone you meet because you never know who they will end up being and people do remember how they are treated by those they admire and those they work with.  

The incident didn’t stop the two celebrities from being friends later on in life.  A few years after the smack, Taraji and Mary met again, but this time it was Mary who fanned out at the sight of Taraji.  Henson remembered this as an incredible encounter.  “I must have said, ‘Thank you, God’ at least a dozen times.”  

The two friends have starred in an Apple commercial together and Taraji channeled Mary during a lip-sync battle where she performed one of Mary’s songs.  There aren’t enough women of color in the entertainment industry for any of them to have grievances amongst each other so it’s awesome that these two ladies were able to work everything out.


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