Taraji P. Henson & Viola Davis Talk Navigating Hollywood

Penelope Cruz might have grabbed all the headlines when it came to the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress at the 2009 Academy Awards, but Taraji P. Henson and Viola Davis said their lives and careers have changed forever following their nominations.

In the upcoming May issue of Ebony magazine, Taraji – nominated for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – shared a beautiful moment she had with Viola – nominated for “Doubt” – during the commercial break following their dual Oscar loss.

“You know how they say that we’re connected as African-Americans, how we’ve got this unspoken thing with us?” Taraji, 38, told the mag. “We looked right at each other, we connected, blew her a kiss, she blew me one back and we turned around. We had to have that moment, just for each other, to let each other know, ‘You know what? It’s still all good.’”

In addition to it being “all good,” Viola is optimistic their accomplishments will continue to shake up the film industry’s at times-limited point of view.

“A lot of stories aren’t being greenlit because people don’t necessarily define them as black so, therefore, you’re not gonna get the science-fiction, you’re not gonna get the black woman who is educated and is sexy and is darker than a paper bag,” Viola, 43, said of Hollywood. “Yet we have to continue to work. In the words of Morgan Freeman in ‘Shawshank Redemption,’ he says, ‘I hope’ at the end of the movie. That’s exactly how I feel about it. I hope.”

Viola’s “Doubt” co-star, Meryl Streep, said she wasn’t surprised when Viola nabbed a nomination and sees more in her future.

“I was surprised when she didn’t win it hands down,” Meryl told the mag. “She will have many other opportunities. And yes, I am sure we will work together again, if I have anything to say about it.”

Though both actresses are now on Hollywood’s radar – please don’t confuse the two stars when asking for an autograph.

“I had to school him because he just saw a black woman and was like ‘sign this,’” Taraji said of a recent incident where she was asked to sign a photograph of Viola. “And I’m like ‘Baby, that’s Viola Davis.’ I really wanted him to know so that he would know.”

The incident made headlines on various online gossip Web sites, but according to Taraji, she was only trying to help out the confused individual.

Adding, “That’s why I said to him, ‘We don’t all look alike, baby.’”

Fellow black Oscar nominee and winner Whoopi Goldberg told the mag that despite the ups and downs of Hollywood, the actresses’ Oscar nominations are something no one – even the industry – will never be able to take away from them

“In a business where things can come and go quite quickly, one thing no one can take away from you is a title like ‘Academy Award winner’ or ‘Academy Award nominee’ before your name,” Whoopi told the mag. “Whether you win or not, that accomplishment will always be a part of your résumé. And a great thumb of the nose to those who didn’t believe in you as much as you believed in yourself.”

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