Taraji P Henson confirmed to guest star in ‘Abbott Elementary’

Taraji P Henson has joined Abbott Elementary season two as a prominent guest star.

The Hidden Figures actress will appear in an upcoming episode of the hit US sitcom as schoolteacher Janine’s (Quinta Brunson) estranged mother, Vanetta.

The news was announced at a PaleyFest panel event in Los Angeles, California on Saturday (April 1), where Henson appeared via pre-recorded video message alongside permanent cast members Sheryl Lee Ralph, Tyler James Williams, Lisa Anna Walter, and William Stanford Davis, who were there in person.


“Now I can’t share too many details with you so you’ll have to tune in to ABC, April 12,” Henson said, “but I can guarantee you that it is going to be a riot… I have been a fan of Abbott Elementary since day one. I’m so proud of Quinta, and I was excited to join her and the amazing cast.”

Following the announcement, Abbott Elementary’s official Twitter account confirmed the news with an image of Henson and Brunson on set together. The caption read: “About that episode titled “mom” you saw earlier…”

Henson’s cameo comes after Janine’s sister Ayesha (played by The Bear star Ayo Edebiri in a recurring role) first appeared on the show last month. We first met Ayesha during an awkward FaceTime call with her sister in the episode ‘Valentine’s Day’.

Janine’s distant relationship with her mother and sister had been a developing storyline throughout this series. However, the clumsy schoolteacher had improved her relationship with Ayesha and admitted that she must do the same with their mother.

“I think relationships with mothers are very defining, especially for someone who is then taking care of children — like Janine, who’s caring for kids,” Brunson told Reuters in September 2022. “It connects a lot to her relationships in the school. I know a lot of women in my life who have had very complicated relationships with their moms unfortunately.”

Abbott Elementary
Abbott Elementary will return for season two this Spring. CREDIT: Disney

The critically acclaimed series won three Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series. Brunson was also the third Black person and second Black woman to win Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series alongside Larry Willmore (The Bernie Mac Show) and Lena Waithe (Master of None). 

Henson earned three Emmy nominations, a Golden Globe Award, a Critics Choice Award, and three BET nominations for playing Cookie Lyon in the music industry drama Empire. The Hidden Figures actress will be in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical take on Steven Spielberg’s 1985 drama The Colour Purple.

Meanwhile, Abbott Elementary was recently renewed for a third season. However, the release date has yet to be confirmed. 

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