Many actors of color have spoken out on the lack of roles for people of color in Hollywood over the past few years. Tonight's winner for best actress in a TV drama
"I never was the actress who said there was no work [for me]," she said. "I really can't complain."
Her secret, she said, seems to be optimism.
"I'm an extreme optimist," she said. "I came from the hood. You can't be a pessimist living in the hood."
As such, she knew that her time would come once she got her foot in the door.
"Let me in the room and you're going to eventually pay attention. I stayed in my lane I never hated on anyone. So what you see is someone who waited their turn."
Cookie, the character for which she won from Fox's hit hip hop drama
Taking on the role, Henson said, was the most daring thing she's ever done.
"I was very nervous when I received the script [because] she wasn't the most likable character -- and I've played characters that weren't likable. But this one was challenging because it was primetime network television. She beat her son with a broom -- even though he did deserve it. She called one son a [f-word that rhymes with maggot]. But I'm the type of artist that if the role doesn't scare me, I don't want it."
She continued, speaking on what "Empire" has done for television.
"I knew this was something special, something to shake up TV," Henson said. "It was too safe and life is not safe. We did that with this show."
Upon hearing her name called, her immediate reaction was to dole out cookies.
"It was like visceral," she said. "I saw them and was like, 'I guess I should hand them out.'"
One to Angela Bassett. Another to Lady Gaga. The last to Leonardo DiCaprio. But she didn't expect to win.
"I just did not expect them to call my name. I never put that much on it. You never know how it's going to come out."
And for the "haters," who said the show wasn't good because of how it centers on homosexuality:
"That's nonsense and it's fear," she said. "The numbers speak for themselves. We just ignore it. People are dealing with this. It's not a joke. That's why it's in the script. People are struggling with this."
"But we're always going to have haters," she continued. "Here's to all my haters. I'll send you cookies."