7 hours and 27 minutes | Simon & Schuster Audio | Memoir | 10/11/2016
I’ve been a fan of Taraji P. Henson since she played Raina Washington on Lifetime’s The Division when I was younger, it was one of the first “adult” shows I watched. The show was ahead of its time and I sometimes think about how Henson was playing a Black female police officer with lesbian moms in the early 2000’s. I can only imagine if they put that on TV nowadays it might be called “too diverse.”
Anyway, this memoir begins with Henson’s childhood in Southeast DC during the crack epidemic and the years of hustle and hard work that lead to her Hollywood success in her mid-thirties. Henson is a trained actress who worked with some of the best at Howard University and there is a lot of craft talk in this book. Henson really digs into the minds of the character she plays. The title of the book comes from her concern of always being typecast as the around the way girl from the hood and her hesitation to take the role of Cookie Lyon–the role that has brought her the most notoriety.
This book shares a lot of DNA with the two other memoirs of black women in Hollywood I’ve read, Last Black Unicorn and We’re Going to Need More Wine. They all touch on the importance of having a support system and other black women helping them navigate the Hollywood scene.
I especially liked what Hensen had to say about the stigma of a single black motherhood and how these mothers aren’t afforded the same considerations and respect as married mothers.
Around The Way Girl is an inspiring and insightful look into the making of an actress and some of Henson’s most memorable moments.