Like thousands of other young women, Taraji P. Henson, who moved into Hollywood's acting elite with her Oscar nomination in 2009, came to Los Angeles with big dreams.
With her son Marcel and $700 in her pocket, the Washington, D.C. native packed in an administrative position at the Pentagon and a part time singing career for Hollywood with a dream to pursue her real passion -- acting.
Despite having a theater arts degree from the accredited Howard University, there were struggles, rejections and rebuttals, but she persevered and to date, she has starred in over 20 films and TV series, each a testament to her dreams coming true.
"My father always told me that if I have faith the size of a mustard seed, I can overcome anything."
Best known for her roles in "Baby Boy" "Hustle & Flow," Tyler Perry's "The Family That Preys" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" which earned her an Oscar nomination, the 43 year-old actress was the perfect choice for BET producers to succeed TV/radio personality Steve Harvey as host of their annual Celebration of Gospel show.
"Since its' inception, 'Celebration of Gospel' has brought together the best voices from both the secular and gospel music worlds to give praise like only they can," said President of Music Programming & Specials, Stephen Hill for BET Networks. "We put together a great lineup and it made perfect sense to change things a little with a new fabulous host."
A position Harvey has held for 13 years, Henson knew she had some big shoes to fill when she was offered the job. Harvey, a comedian known his spontaneous wisecracks has become synonymous with this annual event.
"When I first was offered the job," Henson recalls. "I had a meeting with the producers in my manager's office to talk about it. They know and have watched my entire career and the best advice they gave me was to be myself."
A show which taped Saturday at The Orpheum Theater on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, CA, it featured performances from gospel greats Deitrick Haddon, Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin, Tamela Mann, Tye Tribbett, and a tribute to gospel music pioneer Richard Smallwood.
"Hosting the show is an opportunity to share my faith with you and celebrate God's music," Henson told audiences. "The lord has brought me a long way, and everyone who knows me and who follows me on social media knows that I love God."
BET's annual gospel music special, "Celebration of Gospel" will air on Sunday, April 6 at 8 p.m. EST on the BET Network.