Taraji P. Henson Almost Starred In This Shonda Rhimes Show

The groundbreaking television show "Scandal" – created by powerhouse showrunner Shonda Rhimes – ran on ABC for seven seasons. The show follows political fixer Olivia Pope (played by Kerry Washington) as she navigates the seedy underbelly of Washington, D.C. politics, as well as an on-again-off-again affair with President Fitzgerald Grant.

Washington garnered multiple Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe nomination for her work as Olivia, in what ultimately became a career-defining role though before "Scandal," Washington appeared in a wide array of films. "For most of my career, I was really a character actor," Washington shared with The Guardian. "People didn't connect that the girl from 'Ray' was the same girl from 'Last King of Scotland,' was the same girl from 'Save the Last Dance.' And I loved that because I got to disappear into these other people and it wasn't about me."

And while Washington deserves much praise for her nuanced portrayal of Olivia Pope, she also has stated that the world was ready to see an actress of color in this sort of role – in fact when Washington starred in "Scandal," it was the first time a Black woman was the protagonist of a TV drama since the 1970s (via CheatSheet).

And while it's hard to imagine anyone acting today taking on the role of Olivia Pope, naturally other actresses were considered for the role – including, per CheatSheet, Gabrielle Union and Taraji P. Henson

Taraji knew Kerry was Olivia Pope

Thought seeing a Taraji P. Henson version of Olivia Pope would have been a thrill, the "Hidden Figures" star recognized that the role was Kerry Washington's and hers alone.

"When I went in to read for Shonda Rhimes, in my mind I was like, 'This is Kerry Washington. Why am I even in here?' ... It was hers," Henson said during an interview with Angie Martinez on Power 105.1. "It was her job, and she's great in it."

Only three years after that, Henson had her own casting success story, when she was selected to play Cookie Lyon on the Fox drama "Empire". According to the show's creators Danny Strong and Lee Daniels, Henson snagged the role a mere 30 seconds into her audition (via Entertainment Weekly).

"About 30 seconds into Taraji being Cookie, Lee whispered to me, 'She's Cookie right?'" Strong recalled at the 2015 ATX Festival, then after telling Daniels he agreed, Lee said to Henson, "All right b***h, you got the part."

Henson, of course, was at the top of the creators' list, but the chemistry read with future co-star Terrence Howard sealed the deal.

So while there are of course disappointments and setbacks on the road to stardom, each actress snagged the roles they were meant to play.