The show, which just aired its Season 1 finale on Wednesday, represents a groundbreaking shift for television — and not just because it features a predominantly black cast. The characters on the show are represented in such a truthful and real way that’s it’s hard not to be completely hooked.
During a cast panel on Thursday, Henson, who plays Lyon matriarch Cookie, shared why she thinks the show is so significant.
“Love and hate and loss has no color. For me, that’s what I was hoping this show would do,” Henson said. She then shouted, “Martin Luther King, we made it to the mountaintop!”
Which caused the audience to roar their appreciation in response.
And while I do think the cast has a lot to celebrate and should be proud to stand as such a successful show with such a diverse cast, Empire shouldn’t be seen as “a black show.” It’s so much more than that. The story and characters elevate every moment to something that transcends race, as Henson said. And she couldn’t have hit the nail more on the head.
“I went from recording in small studios in Philly, to now I’m recording with mega-producers like Timbaland and working with Taraji and Terrence,” said Bryshere Gray, who plays the youngest Lyon son, Hakeem. “I’m just absorbing everything right now. I’m like a sponge.”
The show does have incredible musical talent, but it also has meaningful and emotional storylines that have attracted national attention, especially concerning actor Jussie Smollett. Not only did his character Jamal come out on the show recently, Smollett followed suit and officially, publicly came out in real life during an interview with Ellen DeGeneres.
It’s safe to say Empire is changing entertainment while simultaneously changing lives, and we can’t wait for Season 2.