*Mad tea was spilled regarding “Empire” Season 2 during a TV Academy event on Friday, including revelations about Cookie’s main story line, Chris Rock’s guest role and Jamal Lyon’s reign as the new head of Empire Records.
“He’s going to be a very passionate leader,” Jussie Smollett, who plays Jamal, told The Hollywood Reporter. “He’s going to lead with his heart and sometimes that’s going to get him in trouble.”
When we last saw “Empire” in March, label CEO Lucious (Terrence Howard) was thrown in jail and his middle son was put in charge. However, the battle for control of the company is just getting started.
“If season one was who will inherit the throne, season two is warring kingdoms,” said showrunner Ilene Chaiken.
One of those people fighting the hardest will be Cookie, who will return to her more ruthless beginnings when the show returns. “She’s getting back to what she did when she built the empire,” said Henson. “She’s been tucked away for 17 years. Now she’s been out for some time so you get to see the Cookie that actually built Empire back in the day, starting from nothing.”
Despite her character’s close bond with Lucious at times during season, Cookie will embrace going solo for as long as she can. “She think it’s good for her because women, we’re always the brains behind the operations anyways,” said Henson. “But at the core of who she is, she knows he won’t be in there long. He has money, he has lawyers, he has people. Her thing is: how much I can accomplish before he gets out?”
Cookie will also be busy with “two new love interests,” this upcoming season, according to Henson, and those aren’t the only new faces coming. In the season finale, Andre (Trai Byers) and Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday) learned they have a baby on the way.
“Its lovely to watch the growth of that actually becoming a family,” said Byers. “It makes him more mature, it centers things for him a little bit more and whatever he does is for his family now.”
Andre’s newfound spirituality will also continue to play a role in his evolution. “Andre is trying to become something different with his spirituality and with his baby on the way so I would say that that would affect him in the way that he deals with the people in his family, even Jamal,” said Byers. “Ultimately, there’s a lot of rivalry but there’s a lot of love in this family.”
Like the first season, which welcomed the likes of Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige and Snoop Dogg among many others, season two will see the arrivals of Alicia Keys, Lenny Kravitz and Chris Rock, the latter who “will be a person from the past. For maybe all,” said co-creator Danny Strong.