TV Discussion

Empire – Who’s Who?

Ever since it first landed on these shores, the hip-hop drama series has been a smash hit with fans. In a show full of eclectic characters, Empire is spearheaded by the Lyon family as they battle for control of the company. With season four’s impending arrival on Wednesday, we look back on the show’s key players….

Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard)

Lucious Lyon is the CEO of Empire entertainment, a company which he co-founded alongside his ex-wife Cookie Lyon.  Behind its drug and hustling beginnings and Lucious’ talent as a rapper and musician, Empire has grown into a corporate brand entity.  As a ruthless and calculating leader, Lucious would do anything to protect the company’s reputation and ensure Empire’s survival from outside threats.  Those threats includes his own family.

He is the father of three children – Andre, Jamal and Hakeem.  After his wife Cookie was arrested and sentenced to seventeen years in prison for a failed drug run, he divorces her and raises the children with the help of his friends.

In season one he was diagnosed with ALS and given three years to live which prompted the challenge of protecting the legacy of the company.  He keeps the condition secret but announces that one of his sons will be named successor.  The matter becomes complicated when his ex-wife is released from prison and demands half of the company.

Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson)

Loretha ‘Cookie’ Lyon is the co-founder of Empire and ex-wife of Lucious Lyon.  She is the mother of Andre, Jamal and Hakeem Lyon. After serving seventeen years in prison, she returned to the family picture to demand half of the company and to reconnect with her children.  She’s a talented music producer, pushing her creative talent into forming a breakaway record label Lyon Dynasty (before it was re-acquired by Empire) to eventual promotion to head of A&R music. In contrast to Lucious and his ruthless and detrimental behaviour, Cookie is a loving mother to her children, encouraging them to realise their full potential musically or as adults. But get on the wrong side of her, she’ll respond with her all-famous clapbacks.

Andre Lyon (Trai Byers)

Andre is the eldest son of the Lyon family and CFO of Empire Entertainment.  He is the only member of the Lyon family who doesn’t have a music career, opting to graduate from Wharton Business School.  Despite elevating Empire to new heights with its financial and commercial success, he does not get the credit he deserves from Lucious or the devious acts he does to protect the company.  When his father announces that one of his sons will be named successor to Empire, he schemes with his wife Rhonda to take control by turning his younger brothers against each other.  Andre also suffers from bipolar disorder which he medically treats with the support of his wife.  If left untreated he displays symptoms of manic behaviour.

Jamal Lyon (Jussie Smollett)

Jamal is the middle child of the Lyon family and a highly talented R&B artist at Empire.  His relationship with Lucious is fractured and distant due to his father’s homophobic abuse because he is gay.  After Cookie is released from prison, she reconciles with him and becomes his manager, guiding his music career towards a new direction and an overall acceptance of being a gay artist.

Hakeem Lyon (Bryshere Y. Gray)

Hakeem Lyon is the youngest of the Lyon family and rapper to the Empire label.  Hakeem developed an estranged relationship with his mother because she was in prison when he was a baby.  However, the relationship went on the road to repair when he joined his mother’s record label, Lyon Dynasty.  Fame can get to his head with those around him questioning his maturity.  Being in the limelight he can be impulsive and extravagant with his lavish partying, alcohol drinking and his flirtations with women.  But what he lacks in experience, he makes up in confidence which he believes are the perfect attributes to run Empire.

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