"Empire" is taking over network television. Since the Lee Daniels-produced drama hit Fox primetime a month ago, it has been a ratings magnet, attracting some of the largest audiences of this season.
Earlier this week, one of the show's biggest stars, Taraji P. Henson, spoke with Vogue magazine about how "Empire" has the potential to change the landscape of network television and where she finds the inspiration for her flawless character, Cookie.
"She is what she is—I wish everybody was like that," Henson told the magazine. "She's free, she's in the now, she says exactly what she feels and I know most people wish they could all be so bold. She's the moral compass."
Pointing to the hip-hop princesses of yesteryear, Henson looks to Foxy Brown, Salt-N-Pepa and Lil' Kim for inspiration. She admitted that she typically falls asleep in the make-up chair, but when she wakes up, she's automatically transformed into Cookie.
Henson said that from Day One, the cast and crew wanted to shake up the television game. Not everyone, she pointed out, has access to the steamy dramas on cable TV or can afford the luxury of seeing the latest movie in theaters. She said that she hopes that other television shows will realize that there is an entirely untapped audience, which "Empire" is successfully capitalizing from.
"I've been hearing about this thing in Hollywood called the 'Empire effect,'" she said. "A lot of pilots are going back to the drawing board, saying, 'How can we switch this up, make it more realistic?' On TV, things are tied up so neat, but we are going to shake up television, because people love this girl."
Got that right!