You know Taraji P. Henson as the fierce mama bear Cookie Lyon on Fox's hit Empire, but did you know that she's also very funny? That's one reason she's hosting her Fox variety special, Taraji's White Hot Holidays, for the second year in a row.

"I'm a comedic actress and I don't' think a lot of people know that because I play a lot of serious, dramatic roles," she tells E! News of this year's event.

Taraji P. Henson, Taraji's White Hot Holidays

Fox

While last year she co-hosted the special with her Empire husband Terrence Howard, this year the actress is going solo.

"This event is important to me because I'm a mom, and with social media and all the electronics," she laments, "...it's like, when do we have a time to come together and watch a good show together?"

Henson hoped to create a special in the vein of the variety shows she used to watch as a kid.

"I grew up watching Carol Burnett and Sonny and Cher and Solid Gold. I was always a fan of variety style television shows," she reveals. "Singing and dancing, that's why I fell in love with musical theater."

The show will feature holiday-themed music and comedy skits, including performances by Henson's Empire costars Jussie Smollett and Taye Diggs, along with Pharrell Williams, Missy Elliott, Alicia Keys, Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC, Snoop Dogg and TLC. There's also a cameo from Tyler Perry—as Madea, which you can catch an exclusive sneak peek of above—and more guest appearances.

Taraji's White Hot Holidays airs Thursday, Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. on Fox. Empire's fall finale airs Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. on Fox, and will be followed by a special sneak preview of the premiere of Lee Daniels' newest musical drama, Star.

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