In addition to picking back up with fan favorites Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Jussie Smollett and Gabby Sidibe, Fox’s smash drama “Empire” is shining the spotlight on new talent. Up next is a familiar face, Miss Lawrence, who is set to make his acting debut during tonight’s premiere episode, with an epic vocal performance. Not only is Miss Lawrence a prominent celebrity hairstylist and beauty guru, but he can sing too.
Rolling out had the opportunity to catch up with the “Fashion Queens” alum who gushed about his breakout role on the “biggest show on television right now,” his interaction with the cast and upcoming projects. Check out what Miss Lawrence had to say below.
How did you come to land a performance spot on “Empire’s” season two premiere?
Well, Lee Daniels who I now like to call my “television father” — I met him years ago at a restaurant in L.A. He came over to the table and introduced himself and told me that he was really good friends with Bevy Smith, that he recognized me from Bravo and was a supporter. About that time I was doing “Fashion Queens” and Bevy became my mentor. It was during that time that she was able to connect the dots and see all of my talent.
One day while on set, I went into an impromptu skit — where I’d impersonate you know Cookie Lyon, Jamal Lyon and all of that and it turns out Bevy was recording and sent it to Lee. Lee text back “LOL” and Bevy said “hire this girl” and he replied “done and done.”
When did you get the call?
We didn’t think much of it but months later Lee reached out to Bevy and asked her “Someone told me Miss Lawrence could sing?” and she said “like a bird.” He said “Can he act?” She said, “Of course, he was in performing art school for years.” He then asked for me to send him a video of me singing. So, I went to my hotel that night, set my iPad up and sang the first verse and hook of the disco hit “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” by Sylvester.
Literally two weeks later, I’m at home. I get a phone call — it’s Lee Daniels and he was like “Oh my God, I didn’t know you could sing like that. You’re so, so, so talented. I never would have [known] that.” He said, “hold on I have someone who wants to speak to you” and this person gets on the phone and says “Hey Lawrence, this is Lenny Kravitz.” I was already gagging that Lee Daniels called my phone and then this rock ‘n’ roll legendary icon gets on the phone and I had to slap myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. He [Kravitz] said, “I think you have an incredible voice. You should do more with your voice and music. I would love to see more of it. I’m a fan of the show. You guys do your thing.” And that was that. Lee got back on the phone and said “we’re going to do some stuff together.” And me jokingly, said “I want a spot on ‘Empire.’ ” He said, “Bye girl” and hung up.
Months later, while on a plane back to Atlanta from New York, Lee calls and says, “I want to put you on the first episode and I want you to sing.”
When did it hit you that this was a really big deal?
Then I got the script and I knew it was real, real. I’m looking at the script and the titles says “Empire” and Miss Lawrence is on the cover. Then you see the names of all these stellar actors, actresses and directors like Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Chris Rock, Andre Leon Talley, Mariah Carey — then you see my name and I’m like “oh my goodness.” I had a real “mama I made it moment.”
What did you do to prepare for your role?
Now when I say prepare, I mean in the sense that I’m eating properly, I’m not bloated, that I’m going over my lines 100,000 different ways, 100,000 times — you know, making sure that I’m not consuming too much alcohol or being around smoke that could affect your vocal ability — all that type of stuff. Just staying focused and thinking about all the possibilities that may happen when I got to set, because I had never been on a set like that before.
How was it working with the cast?
Like a brother and sisterhood. It was so much fun. I mean so much fun. Gabby is a fool. When I tell you mama is “kiki,” she is a full show. But really, it just felt like family. They made me feel extremely welcome and comfortable. And Lee being dynamic in what he does, lets you know he wanted your best and he was great at getting that out of you.
What fabulous fashion can we expect from you tonight?
Oh, just full Miss Lawrence regalia. You’re going to see some sequins, my infamous red lip, a good ol’ shoe with a 5-inch heel — it’s going to be one of those moments.
What’s next for you in the world of fashion?
I’m working on various things. I’m doing something with Talk Stoop for The Golden Globes along with Bevy Smith — hopefully some in-store stuff for some major high-end department stores involving beauty and fashion and you know, I always try to remain ahead of beauty and fashion.
I don’t want to say that I’m the authority but I do like to give my two cents when I can because I know complete overness when I see it.
*For more information on Miss Lawrence’s budding acting career as well as his upcoming projects including a beauty line, check out his website at www.misslawrence.com.