Taraji P Henson has said she wants to "break the glass ceiling" for women over 40 in Hollywood and urged actresses not to "drop the torch".
The 48-year-old Oscar-nominated actress, who was inducted into the Walk Of Fame in Hollywood on Monday, instructed her fellow actresses to be heard and said she is motivated by smoothing a path for young women entering the entertainment industry.
In an impassioned speech, she said: "I want to break through glass ceilings when they tell women over 40, 'you're done, we're sending you out to pasture, we're going to hire someone young and sexy'.
"But then when I look up and see those men still performing and doing these kick-ass roles at 60, I'm like, 'wait a minute, I still look good'.
"I'm not ready to go out to the pasture, so here I am. So I fight for roles that will break through glass ceilings so that when these young women coming behind me, they won't have the same narrative that we have. We can't drop the torch now, ladies out there, anyone in the industry.
"But we also need our men, that's why I love men and protect them, because we need each other. We can't bash each other, we have to reach across the table and help each other.
"I am for justice for all, I am for all people."
The actress reflected on her early career in Hollywood and said she arrived in Los Angeles in the early 1990s with 700 dollars in her pocket.
Fighting back tears, she told her 94-year-old grandmother: "I hope you are so proud because this is your legacy."
Henson, a mother of one who is engaged to former American footballer Kelvin Hayden, added: "Everything I do is for the positive, forward movement of humanity. That's how powerful art is, I don't take anything for granted, every role I take on is just as special as the last one.
"I know if I put my all into it and this role transforms me, then the audience will be transformed."
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