Here’s looking at you, Cookie Lyon.
1. Shug in Hustle & Flow
We wouldn’t be waiting for Cookie Lyon’s musical moment if we didn’t already know that Taraji has it in her. She starred alongside Terrence Howard in 2005′s Hustle & Flow, as a pregnant prostitute who DJay (Howard) can’t help but love. Shrewd woman that she is, Shug maneuvers her way into joining DJay in his musical endeavors — most notably, by recording the song “Hard Out Here for a Pimp” with him. The song won Three Six Mafia an Oscar for Best Original Song, and Taraji earned a BET Best Actress Award for her performance.
2. Queenie in The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
When a curious-looking baby showed up at her doorstep, Queenie, the sole force behind the workings of a 1920′s retirement home, took him in and raised him on her own. She could have shirked the responsibility of raising a stranger’s child, but didn’t, instead preferring to faces things head on and see them through. Taraji scored a 2008 BET Award for Best Actress and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.
3. Sherry Parker in The Karate Kid
Taraji starred in the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid as Sherry Parker, a tenacious single mother who lands a job in China and moves there with her son, Dre (Jaden Smith). Taraji’s role as single mom who’s making it work (and then some) hit close to home, as she is a single mother to her son, Marcel. The role also earned her another BET Award for Best Actress.
4. Lauren in Think Like A Man and Think Like A Man Too
Lauren, aka “The Woman Who Is Her Own Man,” is a strong-willed powerhouse who pays her own bills — the kind of woman that makes misogynist men fear their own extinction. Taraji reprised the role, which won her a Best Actress Nomination at the 2013 BET Awards, for the 2014 sequel, Think Like A Man Too.
5. Detective Joss Carter in Person of Interest
Joss Carter was a single mother and NYPD homicide detective played in the CBS series. Single mom with a power job — sounds very Taraji, doesn’t it? After two years SPOILER ALERT Joss was killed in 2013, but never doubt that Taraji didn’t go out without a fight.
Watch Taraji express herself via emojis.
[Photos: Getty Images]