Why Taraji P. Henson Cheering For Her Colleagues Is a Lesson For Professional Women

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onstage during the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.

The 2015 Emmys is an event many of us will remember for a long time. In addition to Game of Thrones taking home the night’s most Emmys and the long-suffering Jon Hamm finally winning Outstanding Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his role of Don Draper in Mad Men, the night belonged to four special women of color who ruled the evening, not only with their talent, but with their dignity. Orange is the New Black’s Uzo Aduba snagged her second Emmy win and shared her tearful thank-you’s that tugged at even the hardest thug’s heartstrings. And Viola Davis was awarded Best Lead Actress for How to Get Away With Murder, and is the first African American woman ever to snag that honor. Her acceptance speech, complete with a Harriet Tubman quote, crescendoed with “The only thing that separates women of color from anybody else is opportunity,” was a triumph, and I think we all felt the power of her words (and truth) in our hearts.

Earlier during the broadcast, there was another equally poignant and memorable exchange from two colleagues and friends that everyone will be talking about for awhile. It included pure jubilation, adoration, celebration, and complete fangirl exchange between Empire star and Emmy nominee Taraji P. Henson and her chica, Regina King, whom she announced as winner for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series for American Crime. After screaming Regina’s name, Taraji showed true happiness and joy for her friend and fellow colleague, who like her, has been in the game for a long time, and received a nod that has been overdue.

Why is this news?

Well, in the era of reality television, women fighting, pulling hair, and simply not liking one another, Taraji’s cheerleading and total support is refreshing. There is so much said about infighting and cattiness between women, especially those who are in the same field. We often hear talk of competition and one-upping, but what’s refreshing about this story is Taraji showcased an important trait of being a true professional—cheering for others and supporting people when they win is key.

With very few roles in television (and any other industry for that matter) going to women of color, to see genuine adoration from one brown girl to another is simply awesome. Everyone wants to snag the role and to be the star, but very few want to be a on the sidelines rooting for others. In a dog-eat-dog world, Taraji P. Henson showed us that support is as support does and when one wins, we all win.

And if we need any additional reasons to like her, I am now a Taraji fan for life.

If you are a professional in any arena, being a cheerleader and supporter is critical, and if you are a woman, it is even more urgent. In order to change not only the perception, but the whole movement of being a well-qualified woman climbing up the ranks, you are going to need the support of your fellow female coworkers. It’s okay to pat the back of others and sit back and relish in their accomplishments, because it puts you also in a position for that to be reciprocated as well when your time comes.

No woman in an island. And you can do more great things with others than you can alone.

I thank both Taraji P. Henson and Regina King for giving us, not only something to aspire to, but also displaying for the world to see that the sisterhood is indeed real in the field—no matter what industry you are in.

The Empire star (otherwise known as Cookie Lyon) also showed love when fellow actress Viola Davis won her award as well. She taught us during the Emmys that playing a supportive role is just as important as playing the lead.

Uzo. Viola. Regina. Taraji. Angela. Kerry. Et al. It takes a village to run the world. And we see you.

(Photo credit, Getty Images, ET)

The Cubicle Chick