kareila: hidden between stacks of books (books)
[personal profile] kareila posting in [community profile] kareila_books
I picked this up on a whim at the library. I was not familiar with Taraji P. Henson before she was cast as Katherine Johnson in Hidden Figures but like many Hollywood actors and actresses, hers is an overnight success story decades in the making. In fact, her first big mainstream role was almost ten years ago as Benjamin Button's adoptive mother, for which she received a supporting actress Oscar nomination, and she was doing outstanding work in predominantly black films long before even that.

Her voice in this memoir is engaging and colloquial. "Around the way" seems to be slang for some combination of "down to earth", "from the hood", and "girl next door". She talks frankly about her experiences being raised by a single mom in a bad DC neighborhood, and struggling to break out in Hollywood after becoming a single mom herself while attending Howard University. She reveals both the highs and lows of her career, and credits luck, the support of family and friends, divine guidance, and innate "hustle" in equal measure for her successes. She doesn't shy away from sharing her experiences of racism and gender inequality, and maybe the most intriguing topic is her nuanced appreciation of her father, whom she loved fiercely in spite of his flaws.

I've come away with the sense that Taraji herself is as much of a character as any of the roles she plays, which makes her skill as an actress all the more impressive.

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