CARA DELEVINGNE’s First Solo VOGUE Cover -Talks Depression, Suicide, Life, Love, Model v. Acting , TARAJI P. HENSON’s Inner “Boss” – Covers W Mag Talks – Failing, Reinvention, and Her “Cookie” Monsters
Interestingly, it was just a couple of months ago that Mo’nique was in the news having gone back and forth (in the news) with Precious director Lee Daniels-debating over the fact that [for Lee Daniels himself] she was asked to read for the role made famous by Taraji P. Henson “Cookie” on the [Lee Daniels] hit television show Empire.
Well although it was about a 70/30 divide as to whether or not Mo’Nique could have pulled off a great “Cookie,” how about Taraji P. Henson being able to pull off Mo’Nique’s daughter “Precious” (in the Daniels directed movie) Precious (played by Gabourey Sidibe)?
Well in Taraji’s interview with W Magazine, she makes mention her being asked to audition for the movie Precious but for a different role than “Precious.” Taraji wanted the role as “Precious:
Daniels and Henson had met once before: She had auditioned for his award-winning 2009 film Precious, about a 350-pound black teenager who is HIV-positive and pregnant by her father for the second time. “Lee wanted me for the thin, pretty teacher in Precious,” Henson told me in late spring, with her usual mix of confidence and enthusiasm. She was wearing a short blue romper that showed off her great legs and made her seem much younger than her age (44). “And I was like, ‘Well, I want to play Precious—because that’s the role in this piece.’ Lee thought I was nuts. I was like, ‘Look, they turned Charlize Theron into a monster! I could be this girl!’ When I think about that now, it was such a Cookie move.”
Although Daniels persuaded Henson to audition for the role as Cookie, Taraji had some reservations about auditioning for a ‘Hip Hop’ role. W Magazine states:
Daniels knew that casting Cookie was crucial to the success of Empire, so he persuaded Henson to audition. “I was like, This is stupid,” recalled Henson, who had just left CBS’s successful Person of Interest and wanted to return to her first love, theater. “Hip-hop—dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. But then I started to think, Cookie is going to piss so many people off! She hits her son with a broom; she talks back. Clearly, this was a challenge.”
As well, the divide in the African American community is clearly there where the hit television show is concerned and has garnered quite the audience (in numbers) but along with that, has solicited quite the opinion about “Cookie.” Henson had this to say about her “Cookie” monsters:
“When I hear that Cookie is a bad representation of black women, I don’t get involved. Maybe Cookie makes you uncomfortable because she reminds you of yourself. People miss the bigger picture when they start judging.”
On her humble beginnings, failing, and reinventing:
In real life, Henson has similarities to her character. She grew up in a working-class family in Washington, D.C., and, from the age of 5, she knew she wanted to be an actress. After a failed foray into electrical engineering (“It sounded like I was going to make a lot of money”), Henson majored in theater at Howard University. During her junior year, she became pregnant. When her son was still a toddler, they moved to Los Angeles so she could pursue acting. “It was a struggle,” Henson remembered. “But my son grew as my career grew. I never had a nanny—I did TV so I could be home with him. I wasn’t making my millions, but I was able to fulfill my dreams and be a mother.”
“I feel this desire to throw away the story I’ve been telling for years,” she says, raising her glass. “Cheers—to a new story!” – Cara
As you may well know from our write ups on Cara, she does indeed have more than just a knack and natural for modeling. But that road didn’t come without a few bumps of rough terrains. Here are a few poignant highlights about Cara’s story-that too, gives us a peek into the “wildchild” of her high-energy:
On coming from ‘normal’/real life to modeling and acting and the differences in both:
“After turning 20 and eating McDonald’s all the time and drinking too much, it started to show on my stomach and on my face. I have to exercise restraint after I’ve succeeded in a business where for years I had no restraint, where the whole point was excess? The thrill of acting is making a character real. Modeling is the opposite of real. It’s being fake in front of the camera.”
On how she grew up:
“I grew up in the upper class, for sure. My family was kind of about that whole parties–and–horse racing thing. I can understand it’s fun for some. I never enjoyed it.”
On her mom and heroin addiction:
“It shapes the childhood of every kid whose parent has an addiction. You grow up too quickly because you’re parenting your parents. My mother’s an amazingly strong person with a huge heart, and I adore her. But it’s not something you get better from, I don’t think. I know there are people who have stopped and are fine now, but not in my circumstance. She’s still struggling.”
On Cara being a young adult, Vogue explains:
Now 22, Cara was a brooding little girl whose sisters excelled in school. She recalls spending an inordinate amount of time in the offices of mental health professionals whom, she admits, she tended to “screw with,” saying the same things again and again, trying to get them so frustrated they’d fire her as a patient. At nine, she was told she had the reading ability of a sixteen-year-old. (Later, at sixteen, she was told she had the reading ability of a nine-year-old.) She suffered from dyspraxia, a problem with coordinating her thoughts and movements. Writing was always hard, exams a nightmare. After her sixth-form year, the Delevingnes sent her to Bedales, a posh but arty boarding school. “Totally hippie-dippy,” she says. “If you had a Chanel bag there, you’d be bullied.”
Delevingne on delving into the arts:
She immersed herself in drama and music. (Her parents had started her on drum lessons at age ten to help dissipate some of her inexhaustible energy.) But at fifteen, she fell into an emotional morass. “This is something I haven’t been open about, but it’s a huge part of who I am,” she says. “All of a sudden I was hit with a massive wave of depression and anxiety and self-hatred, where the feelings were so painful that I would slam my head against a tree to try to knock myself out. I never cut, but I’d scratch myself to the point of bleeding. I just wanted to dematerialize and have someone sweep me away.”
On depression, drugs, therapy and self-destruction:
She was placed on a cocktail of psychotropics—“stronger stuff than Prozac” is all she recalls. “I smoked a lot of pot as a teenager, but I was completely mental with or without drugs.” She saw an armada of therapists, none especially helpful. “I thought that if I wanted to act, I’d need to finish school, but I got so I couldn’t wake up in the morning. The worst thing was that I knew I was a lucky girl, and the fact that you would rather be dead . . . you just feel so guilty for those feelings, and it’s this vicious circle. Like, how dare I feel that way? So you just attack yourself some more.”
On being a dropout and being discovered:
She dropped out, promising her parents she would find a job. Her sister Poppy was already modeling, and Cara had been noticed by an agency executive whose daughter was a schoolmate.
Modeling’s rough road:
But modeling was a rough ride at first. She worked for a year before booking a paying job and paraded through two seasons of castings before landing her first runway show.
“The first time I walked into Burberry,” she recalls, “the woman just said, ‘Turn around, go away.’ And all the test shoots with the pervy men. Never trust a straight photographer at a test shoot.” Then, finally, she met Burberry’s Christopher Bailey, who cast her in the company’s spring 2011 campaign.
On the recurrent cycle of depression, self-destruction, contemplating suicide and what changed her mind:
Depression, Cara says, runs in and out of her life, as does a tendency toward the self-destructive. “It’s like, if anything is good for too long, I prefer to ruin it.” At a low point, alone in a New York apartment, she came close to attempting suicide. She was due to leave on vacation the next day, in the grip of an unshakable insomnia. “Full-on bubble. I was packing my bags, and suddenly I just wanted to end it. I had a way, and it was right there in front of me. And I was like, I need to decide whether I love myself as much as I love the idea of death.” And then a song started playing on her laptop, Outkast’s “SpottieOttieDopaliscious,” which had been played at the funeral of a friend who had recently died of a heroin overdose. “It felt like a warning from him. And it made me so furious with myself.”
On being in love with her girlfriend (musician) Annie Clark a.k.a St. Vincent:
“I think that being in love with my girlfriend is a big part of why I’m feeling so happy with who I am these days. And for those words to come out of my mouth is actually a miracle.”
On her sexuality then and now, and being hurt by women:
Cara says she felt confused by her sexuality as a child, and the possibility of being gay frightened her. “It took me a long time to accept the idea, until I first fell in love with a girl at 20 and recognized that I had to accept it,” she explains. “But I have erotic dreams only about men. I had one two nights ago where I went up to a guy in the back of a VW minivan, with a bunch of his friends around him, and pretty much jumped him.” Her parents seem to think girls are just a phase for Cara, and they may be correct. “Women are what completely inspire me, and they have also been my downfall. I have only been hurt by women, my mother first of all.
On men and her fear with men:
“The thing is,” she continues, “if I ever found a guy I could fall in love with, I’d want to marry him and have his children. And that scares me to death because I think I’m a whole bunch of crazy, and I always worry that a guy will walk away once he really, truly knows me.”
Taylor Swift, Pharrell, Kendall Jenner, and more celebrate Cara Delevingne’s first solo Vogue cover: