VIDEO: Taraji P. Henson on Relationship Deal Breakers & How To Be A Boss On Set

Transcript for Zon D’Amour’s Interview with Taraji P. Henson at the “What Men Want” press junket.

Zon D’Amour: Your character, Ali, got three chances with William (Aldis Hodge) meanwhile Mari’s (Tamala Jones) fiancé didn’t get a second or third chance after it was discovered that he had cheated. What’s the difference between a mistake and a deal breaker in a relationship?
Taraji P. Henson:
A deal breaker is “it”, it’s etched in stone, it’s the law. A mistake…people make mistakes all the time. If you’re going to love, you have to love the person for their flaws because we’re all flawed and people are going to make mistakes. You have to go into the relationship knowing, that person is going to let you down. That’s what we do, humans, we hurt each other. I don’t care who you are, even your mom and dad, at some point in your life they said or did something that made you feel a kind of way, that’s human. But when you’re talking about loving unconditionally, you have to love that part, you have to love the mistakes. Now deal breakers are a different story. That’s not even up for discussion once we lay down the law and you break it, goodbye.

ZD:A lot of women go into relationships and sabotage them before they get started because we say things like, ‘he didn’t go to college.’ or ‘he doesn’t make as much money as me’. What’s something that you’ve realized either as it relates to yourself or your girlfriends, that women tend to overthink?
Security. If you don’t feel secure, you’re going to wonder. It starts there—will I be secure in this relationship for the rest of my life? And it’s not just financially, it’s emotionally—does he know how to love me? Also, you have to have the right people around you. I’m an over thinker. I’m an analytical brain, i’m a Virgo, so it’s in the stars. But I have a group of friends around me that aren’t’ going to allow me to leave the room if my fiancé and I find ourselves having an issue. They don’t say, ‘oh girl, you gotta leave him.’ No, they grab hands, lock arms and say, ‘you have to figure it out, you can’t leave the circle.’ You have to stay and figure it out because that’s what “lifetime” [commitment] is about. I think a lot of times it’s who you’re getting your advice from which would help you to sabotage your relationship.

ZD: I loved the soliloquy at the end of the film about Ali starting her own sports agency because she didn’t want to seek the validation of a man. As the executive producer and star of the film with a male director and male producers, what is that balance between being a “boss” and not being labeled a “bitch”?
You have to be a team player. Even though the director and producers were men, they’re fair in their thinking. There for I have a team and we work together. You can’t ever be afraid to speak your mind. Will [Packer, producer] knows that if I speak up about something it means I’m passionate about it. I’m not a problem maker. If there’s an issue that I feel passionately about I’m going to speak on it. Also, you have to learn to pick your battles. You can’t fight every fight. You want to win the war. So you have to be very conscious about the battles you choose.

ZD: I Googled relationship advice for men and business books came up. Meanwhile, there are so many books, movies, podcasts, etc. giving women advice on how to act if they want to be in a relationship. What is something that men..particularly with you having a son, what’s something that men need to learn more about in regards to courting and dating women?
Overall, men should feel more comfortable being vulnerable. I taught my son, ‘you can cry, baby! If you feel some type of way, that’s your feelings, purge them.’ Crying is okay, purge and be vulnerable because you make a woman feel safe when you’re vulnerable. For so long, men have been taught at a very young age, ‘don’t cry, shake it off, be a man.’ And sometimes “being a man” is being vulnerable and that’s okay.