Taraji P. Henson Talks Hosting the AMAs & Meeting BTS: ‘They Knew Who I Was!’

Hosting the 2020 American Music Awards is a natural fit for Taraji P. Henson, a former musical theater major at Howard University.

“It’s just a chance for me to show all sides of my talent,” the Golden Globe-winning actress told Billboard of her upcoming gig. “When you study musical theater, you gotta sing, you gotta dance, you gotta act.”

“I guess some would say I’m a triple threat,” she jokingly added with a hair flip. “I like to have fun and make people laugh. 20 years ago, that’s what I came out here to do: comedy.”

While the AMAs will look different this year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, Henson says that awards shows are more important now than ever. “Right now, that’s what we have in the arts,” she shared. “That’s all we have that’s keeping us together, keeping us sane. Netflix, streaming, people watching television — that’s what’s making us feel somewhat normal. Certainly now, music is a thing that unites us all. We need these music awards shows. We can’t go to concerts! Come on, we need something!”

Turns out, Henson is part of the ARMY. She shared she’s most looking forward to watching BTS present the TV debut of their upcoming BE album’s “Life Goes On,” and run through their groovy Hot 100 chart topper “Dynamite.”

“They are the hottest craze,” she explained, before recalling meeting the K-pop group on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, where the septet recognized her as her Empire character, Cookie Lyon. “They knew who I was! They were like, ‘Cookie! Cookie!’ So it’s going to be great to see them perform on this big stage. You know on Jimmy Fallon the stage is small, but to see them at this big venue is going to be really, really, amazing,” she shared.

There will be no audience to cheer on the star-studded performers and award winners at the ceremony this year, but fret not! Henson has some tricks up her sleeves. She didn’t say much, but did reveal that she has a “very innovative way of bringing in a live audience” that was all her idea. “Let the people know that I will be bringing some celebrities live in the house to sit in the audience, because I’m a great host,” she announced.

Catch Henson hosting the AMAs Sunday, Nov. 22, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC, live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. You can also check out the actress hosting the new podcast series Jacked: Rise of the New Jack Sound, premiering Tuesday on Apple Podcasts.

The 2020 American Music Awards are produced by dick clark productions, which is owned by MRC Entertainment, the parent company of Billboard.