There’s no denying that the breakout character of Fox’s hit hip-hop drama, “Empire,” is Taraji P. Henson’s character, Cookie Lyon. Cookie’s street smarts, swagger, and slick tongue have made her an instant favorite among fans..
In a recent interview with Vogue, Henson says she draws inspiration for Cookie from some of her favorite female emcees.
“Is she influenced by Foxy Brown? Certainly,” Henson says. “That’s where a lot of her style comes from — Salt-N-Pepa, all of that. That era of hip-hop was her heyday, those are the woman she identifies with.”
The 44-year-old Washington, D.C., native also gives the Queen Bee Lil’ Kim some credit for informing Cookie as well.
“Kim is everything. Today it’s Nicki Minaj, but Nicki Minaj got everything from Kim,” expresses Henson. “Kim came on the scene and made everything change for women —she made it feminine and sexy and hard-core. She was a champion, and she’s certainly Cookie’s champion.”
According to Henson, not only is Cookie making people take notice, but the show in general is shaking up Hollywood and changing the way executives think of their future shows.
“I’ve been hearing about this thing in Hollywood call the ‘Empire effect,’ Henson beams. “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.”