The fictional Lyon brothers of hit TV show Empire, Andre, Jamal and Hakeem are expanding their kingdom this month to now include ESSENCE’s cover with a photoshoot so hot, we needed four (that’s right, four!) covers.

Speaking with the actors behind everyone’s new favorite show, ESSENCE’s West Coast Editor Regina R. Robertson learned more reasons to love the Lyon men.

For example, Jussie Smollet, 32, when hearing about the show Lee Daniels was creating, took a long shot and reached out to him in a non-traditional way. “I jumped on Instagram and direct-messaged Lee and said, ‘Sir, I know you get this all the time, but I’m a singer, actor, dancer, songwriter and musician. I am Jamal Lyon in more ways than one.'”

Or newcomer Bryshere “Yazz” Gray, 21, whose NFL dreams shattered with an injury. Did you know the YouTube sensation was interested in youth mentoring? While meeting his young fans, he heard many tales of hard times. “I would hear things like, ‘My dad was never in my life…’ and my response was, ‘My dad was never in my life…Don’t feel like you don’t matter.'”

We all know that Trai Byers, 33, had a very good year in 2014, with the success of both Empire and Selma. There is also talk of an hot off-screen romance between he and co-star Grace Gealey. But did you know that the bonafided sex symbol is also a charmer? He explains why he works out and looks so damn good: “I work out for two reasons: one, because I’m an actor and two, because I’m somebody’s [future] husband. I want to be prepared for the woman God has for me.” Swoon!

To find out which of the Lyon brothers almost became a pastor when times got tough in his life, pick up the June issue of ESSENCE Magazine, on newsstands now!



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