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‘Empire’ creator Danny Strong talks criticism of the show and inspiration for Lucious Lyon


Since the debut of the hit hip-hop drama “Empire,” fans have passionately debated which modern-day music mogul serves as the blueprint for Empire Records’ head honcho Lucious Lyon.

More times than not the battle comes down to Diddy vs. Jay Z, but fans will not have to debate any further.

In a recent interview with radio show “Sway in the Morning,” show creator Danny Strong concedes that the Brooklyn, N.Y.- born Roc Nation boss has “very much inspired certain elements of Lucious Lyon.”

According to Strong, while there has been some criticism of “Empire’s” chronicling of Lyons’ Jay Z-esque former drug dealer-turned-music mogul narrative, the show is far from one dimensional and tells a myriad of stories via the various characters.

“There’s certainly some truth in that, the Jay Z story, which very much inspired certain elements of Lucious Lyon, was that story,” Strong says. “The entire cast is African American. We’re going to have all different types of characters and we’re just going to tell good stories. We’re not going to sit here and play defense or think that our show is a representation of black culture in its entirety. It’s just this story.”

Strong went on to add that the criminal element of the storyline is not something that is specific to black culture only as “so many different cultures” including Italians, Irish and Jews all have similar stories within the history of their respective cultures. If nothing else, he says, the series is an “American dream story.”

“This is metaphorical of so many people in America,” he says, “how they rise up to power is through these means.”

In addition to Jay Z, Strong also admitted that the Kennedy family informs some of the Lyon family story as well.