Empire Reigns

By Randall Rydell Russell

empire cast

Television shows come on and get cancelled faster than you can say boo. The network Fox is

notorious for cancelling promising shows either due to low ratings or lack of substance. But Wednesday,

January 7, 2015, a program entitled Empire premiered to stellar ratings, outshining American Idol, one

of the networks best shows.


Empire, loosely based on the 1966 play and 1968 film The Lion in Winter, the story of King Henry

ll of England, his imprisoned wife Eleanor of Aquitaine and their three sons Richard, Geoffrey and John,

during Christmas time in the year 1183. A power struggle brews as King Henry deciding on which son

should take the throne when he dies.


Empire, takes those same themes and brings them into the modern world. The King in this story

is Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), a former thug and drug dealer who is now a hip hop mogul and CEO

of his own record company Empire Entertainment. Andre (Trai Byers), Lucious’ oldest son is the CFO of

the company, influenced by his wife Rhonda (Katie Doubleday), and yearns to take over the company for

himself. Jamal (Jussie Smollett), is Lucious’ middle son who is gay but hides it from the world, in fear that

it’ll backfire on him, but he has a raw musical talent as singer/songwriter/record producer that Lucious

doesn’t see, due to him being disappointed in Jamal’s sexual orientation. Hakeem (Bryshere Gray), is

Lucious’ youngest and favorite son who is a rising hip hop star who is influenced by women, alcohol and

money. Lucious ex-wife, Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) who helped Lucious start the company seventeen

years prior, is released from prison after all the time, looking to get her half of the company back,

causing turmoil for Lucious, his partner and best friend Vernon (Malik Yoba) and Lucious’ new love

interest Anika (Grace Gealey). Lucious also discovers that he has ALS and must figure out who to leave in

charge of the company, Andre, Jamal or Hakeem, all while a friend from the past, opens up old wounds

that could jeopardize not only Lucious and his family, but the company Empire itself.


Empire, created by Lee Daniels (producer, director of Monster’s Ball, The Woodsman, Precious,

The Paperboy and The Butler) and Danny Strong, and original music by rapper/producer Timberland, this

program shows the highs and lows of the music industry, a traditional old school story brought to our

time, and the trials and tribulations of family while running a business. Gabourey Sidibe (Precious ) also

co stars with a large cast of upcoming performers including Cuba Gooding, Jr., Tasha Smith, Courtney

Love and Naomi Campbell are all set to appear.


For a black program on a major network, Empire is fighting to stay afloat on a network that

usually cancels if things don’t work. But from its series premiere opening to high numbers. Empire may

be here to stay.

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