Taraji P. Henson Joins ‘Abbott Elementary’ in Major Guest Role

Quinton Brunson and Taraji P. Henson on the set of Abbott Elementary. (Credit: ABC/Twitter)

Season 2 of Abbott Elementary is getting more star power with the addition of Taraji P. Henson.

The Empire alum will play Vanetta, the mother of Janine (Quinta Brunson), on the April 12 episode titled “Mom.”

The Abbott Elementary Twitter account shared the news with fans on Saturday, with a behind-the-scenes photo of series star and creator Quinta Brunson posing alongside Henson in the hallways of the fictional Philadelphia school.

“About that episode titled ‘Mom’ you saw earlier,” the photo caption read.

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According to Variety, news of Henson’s casting broke Saturday afternoon during a panel at the Paley Center for Media’s annual PaleyFest conference in Los Angeles. The panel included series regulars Sheryl Lee Ralph, Lisa Ann Walter, Tyler James Wiliams and William Stanford Davis in person. Janelle James and Chris Perfetti took part via Zoom from New York.

Brunson did not attend because she was busy preparing to host this weekend’s episode of Saturday Night Live, where she praised teachers in her opening monologue.

“Acknowledge the work they do every day, and for the love of God, pay them the money they deserve,” Brunson told the SNL audience.

The April 12 episode of Abbott Elementary will see Janine planning a Memorial Day weekend solo trip. But her plans hit a snag when her mother Vanetta shows up unannounced and asks for help. The episode will also see Gregory (Tyler James Williams) working on his people skills.

The “Mom” episode of the ABC series featuring Taraji P. Henson airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT on April 12. The season finale airs the following week.