×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Empire’ Tackles Black Lives Matter, Police Brutality

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead if you have not watched “Empire” Season 3, episode two, which aired Wednesday, Sept. 28 on Fox.

Empire” has been credited as the new “Dynasty” — an over-the-top primetime soap opera that packs in juicy storylines, glitzy clothes, expensive taste, and loud characters. But tonight, the top-rated Fox hit used its platform to spread the Black Lives Matter movement to its millions of viewers.

The final scene of Wednesday’s episode features the oldest Lyon brother, Andre (Trai Byers), getting attacked by police during a situation in which he was not doing anything apparently wrong. Andre, who is African-American, is walking outside of his old home in New York City, moving boxes, when two white police officers go ballistic and pin him down. And that’s when the episode cuts to black.

The scene clearly draws parallels to news of police brutality, following the most recent headlines made in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Asked by Variety what inspired Andre’s storyline, “Empire” showrunner Ilene Chaiken revealed that the show’s writers have been wanting to include a plot line regarding police abuse since season two, but the time was never organically right for the characters.

“There are a couple of ways in which that moment came about. Thematically, it was a convergence of ideas and themes,” Chaiken said. “We talked about telling a story like that in season two  — a story about what’s going on in the world, a story about profiling, a story about race and police. The ‘Empire‘ writers very much wanted to write about it.”

She continued: “To us, it’s really story, it’s character, it’s a thing that happened to a person. It’s not a social statement. When we find the story, that’s when it becomes real for us. I believe that there will be more that reflects the world and those particular themes that we’re talking about. I think it’s very much a template for us. But it’s not in a ripped-from-the-headlines kind of way.”

The inspiration behind Wednesday night’s scene came from co-creator Lee Daniels.

“Lee really wanted us to write about it, and he told us some personal stories that I won’t repeat because they’re his personal stories, but he was talking about his own life and things that were meaningful to him, and this great conversation took place and we came to this story,” Chaiken said.

When determining which character would be at the center of the racial-profiling narrative, Chaiken said it came down to Andre because the incident fits into his storyline, which in last week’s premiere saw the death of his wife, Rhonda.

“We talked about which son it would be and what really felt like the most powerful way to take on these themes. We came to the idea that it would be Andre because it plays into the story that we knew we wanted to tell with Andre in a really interesting way,” Chaiken said, adding that the Black Lives Matter storyline will continue to progress in next week’s episode.

“You’ll see in episode three that it takes a further turn,” Chaiken revealed. “The incident itself and the experience profoundly affects Andre and the direction of his life, and changes the way that he views his place in the world.”

More TV

  • A.P. BIO -- "Melvin" Episode 208

    'AP Bio' Canceled After Two Seasons at NBC

    “AP Bio” has been canceled at NBC. Series creator Mike O’Brien shared the news with fans on Twitter, writing that “This has been my favorite project of my life.” In the single-camera comedy, Glenn Howerton portrayed a disgraced Harvard philosophy scholar who lost out on his dream job and was forced to return to Toledo, [...]

  • James Holzhauer $2 million

    'Jeopardy!' Champion James Holzhauer Hits $2 Million Winnings Milestone

    This current “Jeopardy!” player has just won over $2 million on the popular game show. Who is James Holzhauer? The 34 year old professional sports gambler from Las Vegas has hit a “Jeopardy!” milestone by becoming only the second person in the show’s history to win over $2 million in regular season play. Holzhauer won [...]

  • Kanye West Shares a Memory of

    Kanye West Shares a Touching Memory of His Mother in Letterman Interview

    In a preview of David Letterman’s interview with Kanye West, which begins streaming next Friday, May 31, the musician’s wife Kim Kardashian West, tweeted a clip of him sharing a touching memory of his mother, Donda, who died in 2007 after a surgical procedure. While his wife looks on smiling, West answers Letterman’s question about [...]

  • CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism

    CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism Staffers

    CNN has laid off a handful of staffers from its health-journalism unit after deciding to place its health, climate and Southeastern newsgathering operations under a single aegis. ” As part of the normal course of business, our newsgathering team made a small restructure earlier this week that ultimately impacts 6-7 employees within CNN’s Health Unit,” [...]

  • Henry Ian Cusick

    'Lost' Star Henry Ian Cusick Signs With Buchwald (EXCLUSIVE)

    Henry Ian Cusick, best known for playing Desmond on the hit ABC series “Lost,” is signing with talent agency Buchwald for representation. Cusick also starred in the CW sci-fi/drama “The 100” and was most recently seen in the Fox series “The Passage.” His other notable television credits include “Scandal,” “24,” “Fringe,” “The Mentalist,” “Body of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content