Now that Valentina has started a fling with Lyon’s youngest son (Bryshere Gray) — who happens to be her boss that hired her to be the lead singer for his Lyon Dynasty girl group — the actress promises more drama surrounding the band, the record label, Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), Lucious (Terrence Howard), who pursues her in the new episode, and, of course, Hakeem.
“Hakeem is a ladies’ man,” Becky G tells Variety. “But I don’t think he’s used to being with somebody who’s just as controlling and sassy as his own mom.”
Aside from on-screen drama, the pop star, who is center of a major storyline in the new episode, also weighs in on being nicknamed “Baby Cookie” on set, plus talks about sharing scenes with the real Cookie and “Empire’s” main man Lucious Lyon.
Here, Becky G tells Variety about her audition process, working on set and what to expect with Valentina.
Valentina is such a firecracker. What was your first reaction when you read the script?
I obviously didn’t see much until after I got the word that I caught the role, and once I saw the scenes, I was like, “Wow. She’s no joke. She’s a bad girl!”
You’re a very successful singer yourself. Do you have anything in common with Valentina, who’s the lead singer in Hakeem’s girl group?
She’s a person who is the total opposite of me. The one thing I think we do share in common is that we’re both very ambitious, but other than that, she’s very seductive and conniving and mean. Once I saw some of the scenes, I knew this was going to be fun to channel.
You said that you earned the nickname “Baby Cookie” on set. Why is that?
They gave me the nickname Baby Cookie on set, and I think that came because Cookie has obviously been through a lot and has done a lot to get to where she is, and there’s a lot of that in Valentina as well. I think Cookie sees that at some moments, but also, Cookie has her thrown and she doesn’t like anybody being like Cookie. I think what they both share in common though is that they both know what they have to do to get to where they want to be.
How much fun did you have sharing scenes with Taraji P. Henson, knowing that you were “Baby Cookie” on set?
Oh my god. It was so much fun. It was amazing. I learned so much as an actress, seeing the way she works. She knows her character so well that if something is written in the script that Cookie wouldn’t say, she knows that and would voice that and say, “I would rather do it this way because it’s more Cookie.”
You also share a big moment with Lucious in Wednesday’s episode. What did you learn from working with Terrence Howard?
There was a moment where I was with Terrence and Taraji and I kept looking down at my mark when I walk into the room and that got really frustrating because the director was like, “Stop looking down at your mark!” And Taraji was like, “Shut up, she’s going to get it!” And then Terrence grabbed me by the shoulders and he said, “Close your eyes and count how many steps you take.” So I closed my eyes and counted … and then he said, “Count to 10, say your lines and don’t look down.” So I did my 10 steps and then I don’t look down and I say my line, and bam! The director was like, “We got it!” It was so cool because they did take time to coach me through the scene and give me some advice and that was so awesome and amazing of them to do.
In Valentina’s first episode last week, she mentions that she’d like to sign with Empire, but Hakeem’s girl group is with Lyon Dynasty. Should we be worried about Valentina’s loyalties?
Shes torn between somebody that she’s actually kind of digging — she’s actually into Hakeem. But I think she’s like, “I gotta do what I gotta do and what’s best for myself even though it’s going to hurt the people around me.” I think Empire is so established and so big and that’s where Valentina always saw herself. And then here is this new label and she knows it’s affiliated with some of the same people, but she has a lot riding on the line. She’s just trying to get to the top and she knows that Empire is the biggest. I don’t think she necessary believes in her label as much as she believes Empire is the best.
What drama can you tease coming up on this episode with the girl group?
Lots of drama. I don’t like them and they don’t like me, and then we just find this middle ground where we just realize we’re all girls in the same position and we just have to make it work and we really try to and that’s nice because you can kind of see the soft side of Valentina.
I would imagine they’ll be mad about you hooking up with Hakeem, so what’s their reaction to that?
Oh, of course. It definitely plays the favorite factor of, “Girl, we already know what you’re doing. Don’t try to pull a fast one on us!” I kind of feel the sense of, “I’m better than you guys — and that’s my man!” This season is pretty fire.
How does Cookie feel about Valentina hooking up with her son, Hakeem?
We butt heads a lot — that’s for sure. No doubt about it. She loves her boys and when her boys are taking more attention to another woman other than her, I think she feels somewhat annoyed.
Will Valentina and Hakeem’s relationship get in the way of work?
Valentina is a very confident person, and I think that sometimes gets her definitely into trouble, which is a problem for Hakeem. Sometimes he gets a little caught in between the girlfriend and the mom vibe that some guys can get caught in, so you definitely see some of that going on. I think, too, there’s a nice little connection between them that you get to see every now and then. It’s not just the physical aspect of it. You can tell they’re very passionate about what they do and they share that in common.
You’ve already proven your singing abilities with your music career, but did you still have to audition?
It was a normal audition process, actually. It was kind of cool that it was that way because I really had to go through the whole process of casting and meeting casting directors and making sure that producers thought I was good enough for the role of Valentina. Once I finished the audition process and got the greenlight, I was so excited.
I know you’re not set to come back for any more episodes at the moment, but would you want to return, if the opportunity presented itself?
Definitely. I would love that. It was already such an amazing experience. It definitely makes me want more, especially with them because it was such a family vibe and they welcomed me with such open arms. We leave the storyline where you possibly might see Valentina again.