Love, war, family, sacrifice, money, and music—that’s what openly gay Academy Award-nominee Lee Daniels and Emmy Award-winner Danny Strong bring us with their fiery new TV drama, Empire.
Hip-hop king Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) appears to be unstoppable. Once a street kid selling drugs to support himself, Lyon is now a talented music artist and CEO of Empire Entertainment—a company he built from the ground up. But when he is diagnosed with ALS and learns he has less than three years before he is left debilitated, he must quickly groom one of his three sons to be his successor.
What ensues is an emotional chess game between brothers—the youngest, Hakeem (Bryshere Gray), a talented but spoiled and fame-hungry artist; the middle son, Jamal (Jussie Smollett, pictured), an openly gay musical prodigy whose sexual orientation angers his father; and the eldest, Andre (Trai Byers), the business-minded CFO of Empire who falls short in charisma. Lyon’s ex-wife, Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), is also thrown into the mix after she’s released from prison early and claims to have rights to half the company.
The show is produced by Strong, Daniels, and openly gay Illene Chaiken (The L Word), among others. Empire premieres January 7 at 8 p.m. CST on Fox. —Megan Smith