Taraji P. Henson Will Guest Star In Abbott Elementary As Janine's Mother

After finally introducing audiences to Janine's much-discussed (and maligned) sister this season, "Abbott Elementary" is set to add another famous guest star to the Teagues family: acclaimed and Oscar-nominated actress Taraji P. Henson is set to appear as Janine's mother, Vanetta, in the penultimate episode of season 2.

Variety reports from PaleyFest LA that Henson, the talented star of Fox's "Empire" who has also wowed audiences with turns in movies like "Hustle & Flow" and "Hidden Figures," will play Janine's mother in the April 12, 2023 episode of the hit ABC comedy series. The character has been alluded to often in "Abbott Elementary," and from the sound of things, her relationship with Janine and her sister Ayesha ("The Bear" star Ayo Edebiri) is complicated. In the recent episode "Teacher Appreciation," Janine and Ayesha finally addressed some long-brewing family issues, including the fact that Janine felt Ayesha left the family when their mother needed them both, forcing Janine to pick up the pieces.

It's time to meet Vanetta Teagues

The audience hasn't been told exactly what it is in the Teagues sisters' home life that led one of them to fall into the role of cool rebel while the other became a responsible overachiever. We can expect some answers when Henson appears in the upcoming episode, which will reportedly see Vanetta appear unannounced to ask for Janine's help as she's about to leave town over a long weekend. The episode itself is called "Mom," and is the second-to-last of the current season, so Vanetta's appearance will likely shake things up for Janine just in time for the season 2 finale.

"Abbott Elementary" has had an impeccable record for guest stars in its second season, bringing in the kind of roster that has "Emmys sweep" written all over it. More importantly, the actors have so far been great fits for the show. Edebiri's surprisingly serious turn in "Teacher Appreciation" added depth to a character who was initially a comic foil for Janine, while Tony Award-winner Leslie Odom Jr. made a memorable appearance as a former Abbott student spreading the not-so-good word about charter school takeovers.

Henson's appearance will mark her first live-action role outside of a TV special since "Empire" said goodbye after six seasons in 2020. The actress has previously spoken frankly about pay inequality facing Black women in the industry, telling Variety in 2019 that she still has to fight for equal pay. "If you want a discount performance, go get it. They're out there," Henson said. "But you're not getting it from me."

"Abbott Elementary" airs Wednesdays on ABC at 9/8c, with episodes available to stream soon after on Hulu.