1 of 15
Making Her 'Empire' Debut
Taraji P. Henson nabbed the role of a lifetime with the January premiere of Empire. Playing the feisty Cookie Lyon, the star quickly became a household name after already spending years in the industry.
2 of 15
Winning the NAACP Image Awards' Entertainer of the Year Honor
Following in the footsteps of such stars as Beyoncé, Oprah Winfrey, and Denzel Washington, among others, Henson was named the Entertainer of the Year at the 2015 NAACP Image Awards in February.
3 of 15
Picking Up an Emmy Nomination
Following a 2011 honor for the TV movie Taken from Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story, Henson earned her second Emmy nomination over the summer, this time for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Honored for Empire, the actress also impressed with her red carpet attire at the star-studded event.
4 of 15
Becoming the Best Loser of All Time
Narrowly edged out by winner Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder) at the Emmys in September, Henson managed to remain a winner of the night with her headline-making support of Davis. Giving her competition an impassioned standing ovation, Henson later told Ellen DeGeneres, "Viola deserved that award. And honestly it would have felt weird if I had gotten it over her. … She’s been doing it longer. You’ve just got to give respect and know when your time is."
5 of 15
Starring in an Apple Commercial with Mary J. Blige and Kerry Washington
Henson teamed up with Mary J. Blige and Kerry Washington for one amazing Apple commercial. The spot, which premiered during the Emmy awards, featured the three superstars dancing to Apple Music.
6 of 15
Ruling the Newsstand
The star was inescapable thanks to some seriously high-profile magazine covers. Celebrated for her turn on Empire, Henson was featured by big titles — including EW!
7 of 15
Hosting Saturday Night Live
Henson took the stage at New York City's Studio 8H for a season 40 episode of SNL in April. The Think Like a Man star appeared alongside musical guest Mumford & Sons.
8 of 15
Cohosting Live! With Kelly and Michael
Henson gave Kelly Ripa a run for her money as the guest cohost of Live! in March. Appearing alongside Michael Strahan, she interviewed Shailene Woodley and did an impressive job in the gig.
9 of 15
Charming Fans on The Ellen Degeneres Show
The Empire actress became Cookie Lyon for a little fun with Ellen DeGeneres. Henson played a round of "What Would Cookie Say?" and got fully into character.
10 of 15
Returning to Person of Interest
Henson returned to an earlier role as a bigger star in April. Reviving Joss Carter, the actress appeared in the "Terra Incognita" episode of Person of Interest.
11 of 15
Hosting the Guys' Choice Awards
Henson was the woman of the hour at Spike's 2015 Guys' Choice Awards. Hosting the awards show in June, Henson brought jokes and multiple outfit changes to the stage.
12 of 15
Refusing the Sophomore Slump
With Terrence Howard, Jussie Smollett, Bryshere Y. Gray, and Trai Byers by her side, Henson opened the second season of Empire to strong ratings. The cast saw success with the September premiere, earning an 81 percent increase in viewership from the series premiere months prior.
13 of 15
Appearing as an EW Lightbulb
Henson was featured In March as a part of the EW Lightbulb series of the moment's leading creatives. She spoke passionately about playing Cookie on Empire and highlighted her evolution as an actress.
14 of 15
Signing on for the NOH8 Campaign
The actress joined the NOH8 campaign in February, voicing her support for LGBTQ rights.
15 of 15
Covering Entertainment Weekly
Henson appeared with Empire costar Terrence Howard on the cover of the March 6 issue of EW. Just months later, she was featured in the Entertainers of the Year issue.