Taraji P. Henson

Age: 38 Role nominated: Queenie, Brad Pitt's loving adoptive mother in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" Best known previously for: Shug, the sweet-natured hooker in "Hustle & Flow" (2005); also sang on the soundtrack How does it feel to get your first Oscar nomination? "In 2005, when Three 6 Mafia won for 'It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp,' I made it on that stage [to perform], and something inside of me was like, 'Hmm, wonder if I'll ever come back on this stage?' But just being nominated is such an honor, with the amazing women in the category." What was the key into Queenie's character for you? "She understood love and how you can't put conditions on love. Initially when I read the script, that's what leapt off the page. How this black woman in the early 1900s was able to look past the color of his skin and his exterior features and she was able to take him in and give him life and love, as he deserved. He's a human."
Gabriel Bouys AFP / Getty Images
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