Empire: Who You Need To Know…

It's the show that everyone's talking about. Get clued up on the characters - and cast - of Empire now...

Like all ridiculously addictive soap operas, Empire’s got the family drama (a dying hip-hop mogul deciding which of his three sons should take over his company, Empire Entertainment. King Lear, eat your heart out), the catchiest theme tuuuuuune (not to mention music throughout, courtesy of Timbaland) and a cast of soon-to-be household names, in spades. Time to meet the key characters so far? We think so…

Daddy cool: Lucious Lyon

Deciding who best to hand over the family business to would be a quandary for any father, but drug dealer turned hip-hop mogul and CEO of Empire Entertainment, Lucious is in a right old pickle. He’s struggling with his son Jamal’s sexuality, Andre ain’t got what it takes musically and Hakeem is just a bit immature. Throw in a terminal illness diagnosis (Lucious has ALS and has been given three years to live) and the return of his ex-wife Cookie from prison and he could probably rival Jay-Z with his number of, well ‘problems.’

Played by: Terrence Howard

You may have seen him in Ray (2004) with Kerry Washington and Winnie (2011) opposite Jennifer Hudson. And the guy can sing, so expect an album off the back of this. Well you would, wouldn’t you?

Queen Bee: Cookie Lyon

Lucious’s estranged wife (and mother to the three boys) has just been released from a 17-year sentence in prison for good behaviour. And doesn’t everyone know it. Totally badass (she took the fall for Lucious’ early dabbling in drugs) and absolutely fabulous (a fierce new style icon is born), girlfriend brings a whole new meaning to the words, cookie monster.

Played by: Taraji P. Henson

Remember her as Queenie in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) or in 2005’s Hustle and Flow… or from an episode of Sister Sister? Something tells us her days of cameos are oh-ver.

Big brother: Andre Lyon

Smart (Wharton educated) and respected (by everyone from his father to shareholders), Andre is (almost) the real deal. Overlooked by his father to run the empire because he’s not musical, something tells us this one will stop at nothing to get what he wants…

Played by: Trai Byers

You may have spotted him in 2014 biopic Selma or 90210 (if you were that way inclined!), but this is his major break. Watch this space.

Man in the middle: Jamal Lyon

He may be seen as the black sheep of the family, but we have a soft spot for this one. Jamal is gay and has a very estranged relationship with his homophobic father who struggles to acknowledge him even though he is the most talented. Sob! Cookie adores him. In her own (‘stupid sissy!’) way.

Played by: Jussie Smollett

As a child actor he starred in The Mighty Ducks (1992) and North (1994) and boy, has he grown up to be gorgeous. And talented. He’s co-written songs on the soundtrack. So expect him to make some serious waves in the music world.

Daddy’s boy: Hakeem Lyon

Fame hungry, girl mad and partying hard, youngest child Hakeem is Lucious’s tip for musical greatness and to head up the empire. Sounds ideal, no?! To be fair to him, he has a touchingly close relationship with Jamal – we just hope the old man (and woman!) don’t put an end to their beautiful friendship…

Played by: Bryshere Y. Gray

Why dub yourself ‘Yazz’ when ‘Yazz The Greatest’ sounds so much more, like, official. Nope, we’re not surprised to hear that the man Bryshere is, in real life, a rapper. And his glittering career starts now…

Empire is on E4 on Tuesday at 9pm.

Reading now

Popular entertainment stories