If Emmy Awards voters thought the Lyons could be tamed they certainly learned otherwise when they packed the Zanuck Theater on the Fox lot in Los Angeles to catch a screening and Q&A of the Fox hit drama “Empire” moderated by Gold Derby’s very own Tom O’Neil (listen above).
This Emmy FYC event for the Golden Globe-nominated drama (the only broadcast contender in that category) brought out most of the cast: Golden Globe winner Taraji P. Henson (Cookie Lyon), Oscar nominee Terrence Howard (Lucious Lyon), Trai Byers (Andre Lyon), Jussie Smollett (Jamal Lyon), Bryshere Gray (Hakeem Lyon), Grace Gealey (Anika Calhoun), Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe (Becky), Ta’Rhonda Jones (Anika) and Serayah (Tiana Brown) as well as director and executive producer Sanaa Hamri, and executive producer and showrunner Ilene Chaiken.
The panel dished the season two finale that left viewers on the edge of their seats. As to why Jamal would save Lucious who has been so bad to him, Smollett theorized, “That’s what ‘Empire’ has been doing since day one. We’ve been showing that it’s not so clear-cut all the time. It’s to show that relationships and love and understanding and family are complicated. So I think him taking the bullet for Lucious is a very natural reflex for someone that you genuinely love and care about.”
And Gaeley offered insight as to why Anika threw Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday) down the stairs leading to the loss of her unborn child. “She finds herself in moments of desperation where she knows that what she’s doing is not okay in the least but she may feel that that’s the only option that she has. Leslie Odom Jr. had this article in the New York Times and he said it so well: ‘A lot of times we like to judge this person who we just caught them at the worst day of their lives doing the worst decision’ and I think Anika just has a lot of those.”
Sidibe observed that her character, the assistant to Lucious, has been able to stay out of the fray for one simple reason. “I feel like Becky is the viewer. Becky might as well just be at home with you on the couch. Becky has seen these people for who they are, what they are, their horrible decisions, but also Becky is paid to keep her goddamn mouth closed. She’s trying to keep her job. Becky is you. She’s sitting out there, she’s serving side-eyes and eye-rolls for days for you!”
Chaiken chimed in with her thoughts on the continued success of the show. “We learned we had a show that worked. That we had an extraordinary cast, really good writers, amazing directors and that we had done something special and that we needed then to challenge ourselves to grow the show and make it better.”
Listen to our exclusive audio recording to hear the entire Q&A, including hints about Season 3, what each thinks of their character and who is the biggest prankster.
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