Though she’s rattled around Hollywood for more than 15 years, starring in hit movies such as Baby Boy, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Hustle & Flow, it was only last year (2015) that actress Taraji P. Henson really got her big break by landing her now-famous starring role as Cookie Lyons on the primetime musical soap opera Empire. The show, if you somehow hadn’t heard, is pretty much one of the biggest smallscreen success stories in recent years. Now quickly approaching its third season, the melodrama appears poised to continue its status as an awards and ratings juggernaut.
Along with all the fame, the A-list status, and the awards, Empire also brought boatloads of cash to Ms. Henson’s bank account. And so, for the last year, Yolanda and most other folks we know have expected our gurl to open her fat designer purse and splash the suds out on a celeb-worthy residence. Although she already owns a large house in Beachwood Canyon and an income property in Glendale (CA), neither of those are fit for a real big star. Come on now!
Well, it’s finally happened.
Back in May (2016) an exceptionally private and celeb-pedigreed house tucked away high in the Hollywood Hills quietly transferred for $6,450,000. The sale was totally off-market, so no current photos are available, and the property was acquired via a generic blind trust, so good luck finding Ms. Henson’s name in any public records. It ain’t there. But Yolanda just happens to know that yes, Cookie now commands her new castle.
The house, invisible from the street and set way far behind an electronically-gated and heavily secured driveway shared with three other properties, was last sold back in 2009 for just $2,175,000 by actor/director/screenwriter Vondie Curtis Hall and his longtime wifey Kasi Lemmons to a non-celeb physician.
Now listen, kiddies. It certainly seems as if Ms. Henson overpaid for this house, don’t it? Almost $6.5 million is a hell of a lot more than $2 million and change for just seven years of ownership, yes? How could our gurl overpay that much?!
Well, settle down while we tell you a couple details that might help it all make sense. First of all, please remember 2009 was an utterly crap year for real estate. Secondly, although the structure appears mostly unchanged, it’s quite possible the previous owner made substantial decor improvements or investments. And finally, Ms. Henson knows Mr. Curtis-Hall and Ms. Lemmons — and she worked with them during a period when they owned this house. We think it’s entirely plausible that our gurl entered this house as a visitor in past years. Perhaps she fell in love.
So is it possible that Ms. Henson just really wanted this particular house, and didn’t care if she overpaid by a million or two to get it? Of course it is. Ms. Henson is now a very rich lady, and she gets what she wants. Just like Cookie. Call it ruthlessness, call it boss-ness. Whatever.
Anyway, while Yolanda believes the property may have had interior decor alterations in the past seven years, it’s still essentially the same house, so we’ll share a few of the old 2009 listing pics here for reference.
Yes, y’all, we know these pics aren’t the greatest or most current, but we’ve got what we’ve got and that’s all we’ve got.
The 1965 structure has 3 bedrooms and 3.5 bedrooms in a comfortable but not oppressively-huge 3,188 square feet of living space. Perfect for a single gal like Ms. Henson. There’s also a one-bedroom/ one-bath guest house for her assistant or for her grown son when he comes to visit.
Thanks to its rather remote location way, way up in the hills, the property is blessed with spectacular views to the skyscrapers of downtown LA and well beyond. However, the pool is privately situated in a courtyard rather than on the edge of a cliff, as is more typical of these hillside residences. Now that may compromise your view while bathing, but it also makes for a much more intimate and wind-insulated cement pond. Skinny-dipping, anyone?
As previously mentioned, Ms. Henson still owns her starter house, a Mediterranean-influenced bungalow sort of thing over in Glendale. According to records, she picked the house up for $431,000 in 2002 and has had it available for lease in the past few years. She also owns a large but rather — ahem — homely home in the Beachwood Canyon area of the Hollywood Hills that she bought in 2010 for $1,695,000 and currently has available for sale at with a reduced $2,745,000 ask.
See, homegurl’s got her own real estate mini-Empire going on. Get it? Get it?!