Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 7th 2015 Contents January for me remains the
hardest month to write positivity
into the headlines. It must be that
I m always torn between the hope
of the newness that many accept
and the reality that life is a con-
tinuum of the good, bad, and the
ugly in us and in our environ-
ment, which do not automatically
change when the calendar does.
In my view, too much emphasis
is placed on the newness of things
and the unreasonable expectation
of starting over when, in fact, the
only thing that starts over is the
No amount of Auld Lang Syne
could convince some of us that the
New Year is anything more than a
flip of the calendar. But to many
the New Year represents a renewed
hope for a better tomorrow.
One commenter says, "I don t
buy into the whole resolutions and
a new outlook on life thing---any
day could be the start of the new
behaviour; there is nothing inher-
ently special about January 1. It s
not the externality (January 1) rather
it is the internal motivation that
makes a person change for a better
I m in agreement. Good behav-
iour and improved conduct are
changes in our character that we
should be making daily resolve to
develop. I remain a believer that
the notion of time isn t actually
essential to the idea of change.
Moving now at a slower pace has
caused me to understand what in
my nature is offensive to others
and what makes me harbour feel-
ings that cause me to avoid others.
I resolve daily to change these
things, not to impress anyone but
in order to be the best me I could
be. It s the most I can do. January
does not move me anymore than
We must have daily guiding prin-
ciples, which motivate us to the
good in us---our inherent nobili-
ty---something of a standard to
which we can align our develop-
ment, otherwise, as my Mother
would say to us (when she found
out we did not pray) "You go to
sleep as a mule and wake up a jack-
During secondary school, I was
exposed to the Bible through Inter
School Christian Fellowship and
for me, apart from the values my
Mother instilled it was the next
indicator of behaviour.
Back then women like Vera
Nibbs, Joycelyn Bobb, Phulmatie
Maharaj, Francisca Allard, and Mar-
ilyn Ashby among others, were part
of that body of teachers and admin-
istrators that were nurturers, work-
ing overtime to impress on the
school s population the need to be
I was made to learn the words
of Desiderata and some of the prin-
ciples and lessons enshrined still
instruct me in my own character
Of particular note are the lines,
"If you compare yourself with oth-
ers, you may become vain and bit-
ter; for always there will be greater
and lesser persons than yourself"
and as well, "Be yourself."
I continue to draw on this poem
Taraji P Henson is driving
down an LA street, chatting on
her cellphone, when a billboard
catches her eye.
"Hi, me! Hiiii!" she says, smil-
ing at her latest on-screen incar-
nation: glamorous ex-con Cookie
in "Empire," which premieres
tonight on Fox.
Draped in fabulous furs and
drenched in attitude, Henson s
Cookie is the heart of the Fox
drama, a fiercely devoted mother
and astute businesswoman who
is fearless when it comes to get-
ting what she wants. Her some-
times-reluctant partner is
Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard),
a music mogul deciding which
of their three sons should run
the family s entertainment
Henson has seen her face on billboards before,
with dozens of film credits (including 2008 s The
Curious Case of Benjamin Button, for which she
earned a supporting actress Oscar nod) and popular
TV series such as Person of Interest to her name.
"Sometimes I forget, you know what I mean?"
she says. "I just go on about my day, and look up
and go, That s right, I do have a TV show coming
The 44-year-old actress pulled over to talk with
The Associated Press about the new show and the
empire that is Taraji P Henson.
Who is Cookie?
She is a hero. I mean, she is the truth. She is strong.
She s family first. She s a lot of things. She doesn t
compromise at all---never herself, and never her truth.
That s what I love about her... She says things that
I might not have the guts to say. I love the way she
dresses. I love how much she cares about her sons.
How is it working with Ter-
rence Howard again, your
old pal from Hustle & Flow?
I just know that I really like
working with Terrence. I trust
him. And for me as an artist ---
acting, you really have to be
uninhibited. You cannot have
any hang-ups. Or if you do, they
can t breathe and live through
these characters, because their
hang-ups aren t your hang-ups.
So for me in order to fully
explore characters without
throwing Taraji in the mix, I
have to feel safe... And with
Terrence, I m so safe with him,
I can try anything... We re
friends. We ve known each
other, so it really works for
Cookie and Lucious. When they
came to me with the project, I said it has to be Ter-
rence. When I cracked open the script, I saw no one
What's most challenging to you as an actress
Challenging is getting what I think I deserve to be
paid. (It s) challenging to get the projects I want done
or greenlit. I m still having to prove I m bankable.
But I think it s getting better! I m not one to wallow
in the muck and say how bad. I don t harp on how
bad things are... My thing is to prove each and every
time I m on the screen---whether it s TV, whether
it s film, whether it s the stage---Taraji is going to
deliver. So when I do get that moment--- cause it s
coming, I work too hard---when I do get that moment,
that perfect movie comes along and some studio is
going to say, I believe in her. Not me and a man.
Not me and another guy, no. Taraji P Henson is going
to open this film. Then I know that I m doing my
Wednesday, January 7, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
CAROLINE C RAVELLO
MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS
almost daily. It s not clear to me whether
my teacher meant this for my personal
development because every year during
my time at Cowen Hamilton Secondary
I performed for the graduating class.
This was chosen for the class of 1978
and has lived with me since.
I reproduce it today in part.
"Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may
be in silence. As far as possible without
surrender be on good terms with all
persons. Speak your truth quietly and
clearly; and listen to others, even the
dull and ignorant; they too have their
story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit. If you
compare yourself with others, you may
become vain and bitter; for always there
will be greater and lesser persons than
"Enjoy your achievements as well as
your plans. Keep interested in your
career, however humble; it is a real pos-
session in the changing fortunes of
"Be yourself. Especially, do not feign
affection. Neither be critical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disen-
chantment it is as perennial as the grass.
"Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of
youth. Nurture strength of spirit to
shield you in sudden misfortune. But
do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and lone-
liness. Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
"You are a child of the universe, no
less than the trees and the stars; you
have a right to be here. And whether
or not it is clear to you, no doubt the
universe is unfolding as it should.
"Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be, and
whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace
with your soul. With all its sham, drudg-
ery and broken dreams, it is still a beau-
tiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy
(Max Ehrmann 1927)"
Peace and blessings.
Living positively amid the noise and haste
Henson as Cookie at heart of TV's Empire
Actress Taraji P Henson who stars as
Cookie in the new Fox drama series
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