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Taraji P. Henson to host talk show on mental health

Henson's show on Facebook will interview celebrities, experts and everyday people about mental-health issues, particularly those in the Black community.
Actress Taraji P. Henson speaks during the 2019 Global Citizen Festival, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in New York.Julius Constantine Motal / AP

Taraji P. Henson will shine a spotlight on mental wellness in a new talk show for Facebook Watch, co-hosted with her longtime best friend, Tracie Jade Jenkins.

The original series, "Peace of Mind with Taraji" (working title), is slated to go into production later in 2020. In the show, Henson ("Empire," "Hidden Figures") and Jenkins (executive director of Henson's Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation) will interview celebrities, experts and everyday people about mental-health issues, particularly those in the Black community.

"I've long been a mental health advocate for the Black community and created the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in 2018 that has provided resources to thousands of people who are struggling," Henson said in a statement. "I'm looking forward to bringing this new talk series to Facebook Watch, where I can continue to create conversation around an issue that is near and dear to my heart."

"Peace of Mind with Taraji" is the latest addition to Facebook Watch's slate of talk shows -- part of the social giant's strategy to focus on personality-driven and reality programming as it has sidelined scripted shows. Other talkers include "Red Table Talk" with Jada Pinkett Smith, one of Facebook Watch's top-performing originals, and "Steve on Watch," a revival of Steve Harvey's daytime talk show. Launching this week on Oct. 7 is "Red Table Talk: The Estefans" featuring Gloria Estefan, which like the original "RTT" is produced by Pinkett Smith and Will Smith's Westbrook Studios.

Facebook hasn't set a premiere date for "Peace of Mind with Taraji." Each episode of the show will focus on a different mental health topic, with multiple content drops planned per week.

A key part of Facebook's originals strategy is to exploit the platform's social features to drive community and conversation around the shows. Execs hope "Peace of Mind with Taraji" can find similar success on this front as "Red Table Talk," which hosts an official Facebook group with over 2.8 million members.

"The work Taraji has done in the mental health space is inspiring, and we're thrilled to have her come to our platform to educate and entertain around this incredibly important topic," said Mina Lefevre, Facebook Watch's head of development and programing.

The show is part of Facebook's broader initiative for World Mental Health Day (Oct. 10), which includes new mental health features and resources. For example, it's launching Emotional Health, a centralized resource center on the Facebook app with tips and information from experts, and new mental well-being guides on Instagram, including one created in collaboration with the Jed Foundation.

"Peace of Mind with Taraji" is produced by 495 Productions (MTV's "Jersey Shore," CMT's "Party Down South"). Henson, Jenkins, 495 Productions founder/CEO SallyAnn Salsano and Jennifer Ryan serve as executive producers, and Ebony McClain serves as co-executive producer.

Henson's Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation is named in after her late father, who suffered with mental health challenges as a result of his tour of duty in the Vietnam War.

Henson is repped by UTA and law firm Ziffren Brittenham. The actor-writer-producer recently wrapped her run as Loretha "Cookie" Lyon in Fox's musical drama "Empire," which earned her three Emmy nominations, a Golden Globe Award, Critic's Choice Award and three BET Awards. She currently is developing an "Empire" spinoff centered on Cookie through her production company, TPH Entertainment, under a first-look deal with 20th Television. Henson recently starred in Paramount's "What Men Want" from director Adam Shankman and "The Best of Enemies" opposite Sam Rockwell.

Facebook claims it has seen significant traction for Watch, the video component of its flagship app designed for episodic viewing first introduced in 2018. Last month, the company announced that 1.25 billion monthly average viewers now access Facebook Watch worldwide; however, that includes everyone who has streamed as little as 1 minute of video.