Jussie Smollett is the tall gust of wind beneath Taraji P. Henson’s wings in MAC’s latest Viva Glam campaign, coming out in April. As you may already know, 100% of Viva Glam proceeds go directly to the MAC Aids Fund, which helps individuals with HIV. Jussie himself says it’s not the sexiest topic, but that’s not gonna stop him. Here’s an interview with Taraji and Jussie.
How does it feel to be the face of the VIVA GLAM campaign?
Taraji: It means the world to me to represent such an honest and giving brand like M·A·C. There have been so many advancements in treating HIV/AIDS that people no longer think it’s an issue. But I want people to know that we cannot become complacent or have a lazy attitude- because it’s still affecting people today — especially African Americans.
Jussie: Working alongside my girl Taraji on this was really surreal. I am proud to lend my voice to a cause that’s been very close to my heart since I was young. M·A·C is a pioneer in the fight against HIV/AIDS—they’ve raised more than $450 million through the sales of VIVA GLAM and I’m honored to help be a part of the change.
How will you use your voice and status to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS?
Taraji: We have to keep being messengers by talking about the disease and continuing a dialogue about HIV/AIDS so that we don’t drop the ball. There are so many advancements in treating the disease, and we are so close to a cure, but until then we need to keep doing the work.
Jussie: We’re planting seeds and letting people know that HIV/AIDS is not over—we need to continue to educate ourselves and be open about our status.
Why is it important for you to talk about sex and sexuality?
Taraji: The more we talk about it, the more awareness we are bringing to the public. When the public sees faces like mine and Jussie’s, who are free enough to talk about these issues, we hope it encourages them to do the same feel more comfortable doing so.
Jussie: I want people to know that there is no shame in talking about your status. HIV/AIDS is real and it’s still affecting people today.
How can your fans get involved and support this initiative?
Taraji: It’s pretty simple. Buy a VIVA GLAM lipstick and know that every single penny goes to help end this disease.
Jussie: M·A·C says buy a lipstick, save a life. Do that, educate yourself, know your status and don’t become complacent.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about HIV/AIDS and the M·A·C AIDS Fund? Why is it important to raise money for the fight against HIV/AIDS?
Jussie: There are so many causes and so many things to be concerned about in our world, let alone in our nation. While AIDS isn’t the sexy or “in” thing to talk about it doesn’t mean it’s gone. If you contract HIV/AIDS you’re still able to live a wonderful, full life — however I don’t want you to contract it.
Taraji: People are still dying, it’s still an issue and it’s heavily affecting the African American community. Because of the other issues people are forgetting about it. The more money raised, the closer we can get to a cure.
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Taraji P. Henson for MAC Viva Glam will be available in April.