You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Empire’ Cast and Creators: ‘We’re Showing Real Life’

Television audiences are looking for diversity onscreen, if “Empire’s” ratings are any indication (along with the success this season of “How to Get Away with Murder” and “Black-ish”).

“Shows with people of color can make money,” said star Taraji P. Henson, during the hip-hop drama’s panel at the Television Critics Assn. press tour on Saturday, hours after the Fox show earned an early second-season renewal. “With the wave of successful ethnic shows that are on television, people want to be part of it.”

Star Terrence Howard said the reason for the show’s success is simple: “This is the culture of America. We’re showing real life.”

Jussie Smollett, who plays Henson and Howard’s gay son on Fox’s mega-hit, agreed with his onscreen father, who neglects him on the show because of his sexuality. “[People] want to see a representation of our world on television, and our world is not one color,” he said.

Howard admitted that it’s tough for him to play such a close-minded character but added that he’s honored for the opportunity to make an impact on those who are still not accepting, which was a top priority for creator Lee Daniels.

“Homophobia is rampant in the African-American community,” said Daniels. “I wanted to blow the lid off the door of homophobia.”

Showrunner Ilene Chaiken, who assembled a diverse writers’ room to help lend authenticity to the storytelling, says she welcomes any changes the show has on the culture.

“If ‘Empire’ influences anybody, fabulous,” Chaiken told Variety. “I hope that nobody needs to be influenced — it’s just obvious that this is how we should make television. This is how we should make entertainment. It’s more of a ‘why not?’ than a ‘why.'”

More TV

  • AT&T's Xandr Works for Closer Ties

    AT&T's Xandr Works for Closer Ties With WarnerMedia (EXCLUSIVE)

    At Xandr, the ad-technology firm that is part of AT&T, the time to start talking about the advertising of the future is now. The AT&T unit is best known, perhaps, for selling commercial inventory related to the company’s DirecTV. But Xandr CEO Brian Lesser expects to be recognized soon for taking part in many other [...]

  • Bong Joon Ho Talks 'Parasite' on

    'Parasite' Director Bong Joon Ho Makes Late Night Debut Following Three Globe Nominations

    “Parasite” director Bong Joon Ho sat down for his first U.S. late-night appearance on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” Monday night. The director, who received best director and best original screenplay Globen Globe nominations with co-writer Han Jin Won, plus a best foreign language nod Monday morning, did not give much away about the film’s [...]

  • Batwoman -- "Crisis on Infinite Earths:

    'Crisis on Infinite Earths' Recap: The Return of Two Supermen and a World-Ending Plan

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two,” the “Batwoman” episode of the 2019 “Arrowverse” crossover. “Crisis on Infinite Earths” set a strong tone with its opener Sunday night, as the Anti-Monitor hurtling through space obliterated Earth-38 and claimed its first superhero victim in Oliver Queen aka [...]

  • Batwoman -- "Crisis on Infinite Earths:

    'Crisis on Infinite Earths' Team Talks Oliver's Fate and Batwoman's Big Move (Spoilers)

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two,” the “Batwoman” episode of the 2019 “Arrowverse” crossover. The second hour of the CW’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover killed off another iconic hero — but brought one back. After Oliver (Stephen Amell) sacrificed himself in event’s first episode, [...]

  • TV News Roundup: TBS Unveils 'Miracle

    TV News Roundup: TBS Unveils 'Miracle Workers: Dark Ages' Trailer

    In today’s TV news roundup, TBS releases the first look at Season 2 of “Miracle Workers” and Netflix announces the premiere date for “Cheer.” CASTINGS:  Nickelodeon has called on comedian and writer Adam Conover to host its new family game show “The Crystal Maze.“ In the American rendition of the U.K. series, Conover will take [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content