ET’s Leanne Aguilera caught up with the Empire star at Fox’s upfront presentation on Monday, and the 47-year-old actress spilled all the details on how her beau, former NFL pro Kelvin Hayden, popped the question.
“I think he was trying to wait, and he couldn't wait, 'cause he had the ring, and I guess it was burning a hole in his pocket,” Henson recalled. “I'm in Atlanta right now, filming What Men Want, and I told him, I said, 'I'm gonna come home for Mother's Day,' and he said, 'Come home!' And I noticed the look in his eyes, but I didn't put it together.”
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EXCLUSIVE: Taraji P. Henson on Finding Love in Hollywood: I Want Someone to 'Take Care of My Heart'
Henson announced her engagement with a sweet Instagram post on Sunday, but admitted to ET that it took her a moment to catch on to Hayden’s big surprise. “He takes me where we had our first date, I didn't put that together. I didn't put it together until we went into the party room after we ate, and I saw a violinist, 'cause he was trying to say it was his friend's birthday -- which it was, on Friday -- 'Oh, Ronald's gonna have a little get-together in the back room.' And I was like, 'Aw, that's perfect. We'll already be there.'”
“I go back there and I go, 'Ronald's not into violins, what's going on here?'” she continued. “And as I'm putting the dots together, I turn around, he's on his knee and then the river of tears just started and my lashes ended up on the floor.”
The actress added that the proposal adds another special milestone to Mother’s Day weekend for her. Her 24-year-old son, Marcell, was also born over the holiday weekend.
Henson told ET that Hayden -- a 34-year-old Super Bowl champion who played for the Indianapolis Colts, Atlanta Falcons and Chicago Bears over his nine-year career -- did a great job with the ring, which she showed off in her engagement announcement.
“It's perfect,” she gushed. “It's not too big. It's not too gaudy. It's just perfect. He did great.”
As for the wedding specifics, Henson said she’s starting to plan, but wants to take a moment to savor life with her fiance first.
“People are hitting me up,” she admitted. “It's starting to get overwhelming, and we're thinking, we're talking a year from now, and I know how fast that's going to go, so it's a lot. I'm trying to just enjoy being blissfully engaged for a minute.”
ET also caught up with some of Henson’s Empire co-stars, who couldn’t have been sweeter about seeing their Queen Cookie happily betrothed.
“I think that he did a wonderful job,” said Terrence Howard, who plays Henson’s onscreen husband, Lucious Lyon. “She had no [idea], and next thing you know, he was on his knees and she was just crying… He did a wonderful, wonderful job.”
“When good people find each other, they should be together. You know what I'm saying?” added Jussie Smollett, who plays the Lyons’ middle son, Jamal. “Work on it, you love each other, and it's great. I just love her so much. Someone that's that so full of love deserves to have somebody that is gonna do it."
However, Smollett warned the the Lyon pride takes their protectiveness of Henson seriously, laughing, “We always gonna have our eye on you, Kelvin! I love you, bro, but we always gonna have our eye on you. Her heart is safe.”
See more on Henson in the video below. Empire returns for its fifth season this fall on Fox.