Taraji P. Henson to Star as Miss Hannigan in NBC's Annie Live!

No more hard knock life for us! Taraji P. Henson is going to play Miss Hannigan in NBC's Annie Live! musical this winter and casting is now open for the lead role.

By Lindsay Weinberg Jun 08, 2021 12:00 PMTags

Taraji P. Henson is heading to Easy Street!

The Oscar nominee just landed the role of the Miss Hannigan in NBC's upcoming TV musical Annie Live!, the network announced on Tuesday, June 8. 

Henson, 50, will play the orphanage villain in the holiday musical, which will air on Dec. 2 on NBC, and you can bet your bottom dollar we'll be tuning in. 

With the casting, the Hidden Figures star joins an elite group of legendary actresses that have played Miss Hannigan on screen: Carol Burnett in the 1982 movie, Kathy Bates in the 1999 movie and Cameron Diaz in the 2014 movie.

Henson said one of the reasons she wanted to take on the wacky part was her admiration of Burnett. She said in a statement that Burnett is "someone I have studied and idolized as far back as I can remember," adding, "So when the opportunity came to me to join NBC and this incredible group of producers, I jumped! Carol, I hope to do you proud!"

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Empire fans know that Henson is multi-talented and performed for the soundtrack in three episodes of the show. She also sang the Oscar-winning song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" in the 2005 film Hustle & Flow.

So, who will star alongside her as the titular feisty orphan? The search is on for the next Annie, after Aileen Quinn, Alicia Morton and Quvenzhané Wallis played her in the recent films.

According to NBC, the creative team is seeking a "young, future star of any ethnicity to bring optimism, spunk, honesty and a wisdom beyond their years to the classic role." She also "must have an excellent voice with a strong high belt, great comedic timing and excellent dance skills," per the casting call.

Troy Harvey/ABC via Getty Images/Columbia/Kobal/Shutterstock

Auditions will take place virtually here, with rehearsals in October and November in New York.

"When we decided to bring back NBC's holiday musical tradition, we were looking for something that was critically acclaimed and universally beloved—and while that's definitely the case with Annie, it absolutely applies to Taraji as well," said Susan Rovner, the chairman of entertainment content at NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, in a statement obtained by E! News. 

Annie Live! will be executive produced by Robert Greenblatt (Six Feet Under), Neil Meron (Empire) and Alex Rudzinsky (The Masked Singer). 

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)