Taraji P. Henson is a celebrated actor and singer who has appeared in movies such as Hustle & Flow, Date Night, and Hidden Figures. On television, she played Detective Jocelyn Carter on CBS’s Person of Interest and now stars as Cookie Lyon on Fox’s Empire. In Ralph Breaks the Internet, she plays Yesss, a lively algorithm that determines the trending videos on the popular streaming site BuzzTube.
Screen Rant: First of all, you’re one of my favorite actresses. Let me just tell you and I'm so happy to hear your voice in a Disney film. You got to tell me what is that experience like. Getting that call and just knowing you're going to be a part of the Disney lexicon of characters.
Taraji P. Henson: It's just a dream come true. It certainly was on my bucket list. And I mean what way to enter the Disney family with this character, Yesss. I mean she's just groundbreaking.
Screen Rant: She is. I talked to the directors earlier this summer and they were so excited to talk about, Yesss. But talk to me what stands out about Yesss?
Taraji P. Henson: I think, well one for sure, the pink elephant in the room, her fashion, her style, her sense of style. But, she's a woman who understands this world of the Internet. She understands what it is to make a video go viral. I don't think I quite understand that [LAUGHS]. So, she's like this genius. And I think that's good that it's a woman.
Screen Rant: They also told me that you guys had a lot of free reign to kind of riff off the script and stuff. And that Yesss, kind of had somewhat of a foot fetish for Ralph. Is this true?
Taraji P. Henson: Yes. She talked about his feet. I mean, look at them. They're prevalent. There right there. [LAUGHS] They cracked up. They just, I don't know. I just had this thing for his feet and I’d just comment on them.
Screen Rant: How did you personally connect to Yesss? Because she, she is a boss.
Taraji P. Henson: She's the boss. The thing about voiceover, I guess that means that I've done enough where people actually have heard my annoying voice to pick it out in a crowd. But, I think the first goal out, is to sound as much like myself as possible. So, people can identify, “Oh, that's Taraji.” And maybe later on, with the next 10 animated films that I voiceover, I can change and play with different sounds.
Screen Rant: Yess spinoff.
Taraji P. Henson Yes. I would love a Yesss spinoff.
Screen Rant: Now, with the Internet being such a big thing, what do you think Yesss is speaking to the Internet culture through the audience. What is she trying to say to the Internet culture?
Taraji P. Henson: I think what she's trying to say is be responsible. I mean, you can have fun and you can make things go viral and yes, it's all about likes. I thought she taught a great lesson about finances and how you can flip it and make money.
Screen Rant: Finances?
Taraji P. Henson: Yeah, how you turn those hearts into revenue [LAUGHS]. Which will help your finances. She is a lot of lessons that she teaches. But I think the most important is to stay out of the comments. Because hurt people hurt people.
Screen Rant: The one thing this movie did so well is creating the internet and making a visual storytelling for anybody, really. And staying out of the comments was a big part of this. What other things do you want people to take away when they see Ralph Breaks the Internet?
Taraji P. Henson: I think the most important message in the movie is about unconditional love, that you should have for a friend. No matter if they agree with you on everything, you're not going to agree with each other on everything. And they may choose a path in life that you aren’t very fond of. But what can you do if you love the person? You support them. And you help them along the way. And I think that's a beautiful relationship that they have created, and bond they've created, between Vanellope and Ralph.
Screen Rant: All of you guys seem to have great chemistry together. At least your voices. Were you guys in the same booth recording altogether?
Taraji P. Henson: I was with John C. Reilly. Especially for the scene when he ends up finding himself in the comments section.
Screen Rant: And that's where you guys sparked the foot fetish.
Taraji P. Henson Yeah, there was a difference. That was the first time that I'd ever-- I was in a studio with anyone. Before that day, it was just me by myself with Rich and Phil. And they did a really good impersonation of Ralph and Vanellope. But it's nothing like the real thing. And I think we needed it for that scene. Because that scene to me weighted the movie. It weighted the movie and it gave it compassion and certainly gave Yesss compassion.
Screen Rant: When you look back now and you can take away something from Yesss that you can advance with you and your career, what would that be?
Taraji P. Henson: If I could do what now?
Screen Rant: You can take something from Yesss, that you learned working from Yesss, if you could take that through your career. What would that be? Turn hearts into money?
Taraji P. Henson: Hey. Yesss. Well that's what I do. If you love to Taraji, you go to the box office and see me.
Screen Rant: Oh, I do all the time. Thank you so much for your time. You did an amazing job.
Taraji P. Henson: Thank you, so much.
- Ralph Breaks the Internet/Wreck-It Ralph 2 (2018) release date: Nov 21, 2018