BY DONNA FREYDKIN
Golden Globe winner Taraji P. Henson, who plays leopard-loving matriarch Cookie Lyon on the Fox smash "Empire," is much more understated than her bawdy, bodacious alter ego.
But, says her longtime makeup artist Ashunta Sheriff, the two have one thing in common: A love of all things gorgeous. "Taraji loves makeup. She has every flat iron, every curling iron, every nail polish. If the entire glam squad was kidnapped by aliens, she'd get everyone ready for the red carpet," says Sheriff.
She gussied Henson up for the 47th NAACP Image Awards, held at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on Feb. 5. And Sheriff, who used all Dior on Henson, reveals their tight bond. Henson picked up an award for for outstanding actress in a drama series; "Straight Outta Compton" was named best motion picture (see our interview above).
"I've known her for 12 years. I knew Cookie from 'Smokin' Aces.' I met Taraji through Alicia Keys. I've been her makeup artist for over a decade. Taraji and I became fast friends. We hung out, we went to parties together, we had a great friendship. Around 2009 was the first I did her makeup for her," says Sheriff.
Their relationship way transcends business. "It's like doing the makeup of your sister. It's like a family thing. We travel together. Last night were here for the Super Bowl. We went to some parties," she says.
Just don't expect to see Cookie when you meet Henson.
"When Taraji goes out, we go for less makeup -- for sultry, sexy, less makeup. Very beautiful, soft and glowing. With Cookie, it's heavier, the color palette is blue eyeshadow with purple fuchsia lipstick. Taraji would never do that. She likes to be in gold and champagne and earth tones. She likes to keep her eyes clean. Cookie likes dramatic eye brows, dramatic lips, dramatic eyes," says Sheriff.
But Henson does have a few things in common with Cookie, sans the jail stint and the constant family infighting. "Taraji is very smart. We have good deep intellectual conversations but we can get on the dance floor and twerk. She's a fighter for causes. She speaks her mind and her truth. She'll get on Twitter and she'll protest," says Sheriff.
When the second half of season two of "Empire" returns in March, you'll see a slightly different side of Cookie. She's still fighting for her sons. And she still freaks if anyone messes with her family.
"But Cookie's style has evolved. In season one, she was fresh out of jail. She didn't know trends. She did animal print. It was designer animal print but she thought that meant classy. She's evolved her style. She's a multi millionaire now. Now she has a different aesthetic but it's still gaudy," says Sheriff.
Products used on Henson for the NAACP awards, available at Nordstrom:
Dior Airflash CC Primer
Backstage Blender Fluid Foundation Sponge
Diorskin Forever Foundation: #040 Honey Beige, #50 Dark Beige
Diorskin Nude Air Loose Powder #040 Honey Beige
Diorblush Sculpt #004 Brown Contour (Jan 2016)
Diorskin Nude Air Illuminating Powder #002 Glowing Nude
Diorshow Brow Styler #002 Universal Dark Brown
Dior 5 Couleurs Eyeshadow Palette #876 Trafalgar
Eyeliner Waterproof #094 Trinidad Black
DiorShow Extase Mascara #090 Black Extase
Dior Addict It-Line #099 It-Black
Dior Addict Lip Glow in #005 Lilac
Rouge Dior Contour Nude Lip Liner #169 Grège
Dior Addict Ultra-Gloss #629 Mirrored