Pilot Scoop: Taraji P. Henson Joins Fox's Hip-Hop Empire, from Lee Daniels and Danny Strong

Taraji P Henson Cast Fox PilotFox’s Empire pilot has cast a person of considerable interest as its female lead: Onetime Academy Award nominee Taraji P. Henson.

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From Lee Daniels’ The Butler scribe Danny Strong and director Lee Daniels, the prospective series is a unique family drama set in the world of a hip-hop and centering on music mogul Lucious Lyon (Hustle & Flow‘s Terrence Howard).

TVLine has learned that Henson will play Cookie Lyon, Lucious’ ex-wife and former business partner. She is described as a “sexy, outrageous, over-the-top force” who has spent 17 years of hard time in prison for dealing drugs, funneling the ill-gotten gains into Lucious’s then-fledging music empire. Now that she’s been released early for good behavior, she wants what’s hers.

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Also joining the Empire family is Season 1 Mindy Project guest star Jussie (brother of Jurnee) Smollett, playing Jamal Lyon, a musical prodigy who, being a gay man, has been rejected and judged by his father Lucious since childhood.

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At the time of her abrupt POI exit this past fall, Henson told TVLine, “I’m the type of actress who loves to leave people wanting more. That’s just me. I don’t think I’m there in my career yet, where I ride out a show until the wheels fall off.”