Thanks to the (somewhat) success of The L.A. Complex, we’re about to see a new black gay character in the world of Hip Hop on network television. Openly gay filmmaker Lee Daniels is producing a new show on FOX debuting in January called EMPIRE, set in the world of the rap music business.

Cypher Avenue hip hop heads, don’t get too excited. This is Lee Daniels we’re talking about so expect the show to be more like Scandal and Real Housewives of Atlanta than HBO’s The Wire.

“Actually, it’s more like Nashville” said Lee Daniels to The Hollywood Reporter. “…there is not much violence. And Dynasty. I wanted to make a black Dynasty. You sit there and go, “No, this bitch didn’t! Oh my f—ing God!””


Added to that, the show features a (soft) black gay character played by Jussie Smollett (one of the feminine guys in Patrick Ian Polk’s The Skinny). Unlike Kaldrick King, however, this character isn’t hyper-masculine, he’s openly gay…and he’s in an interracial relationship with a handsome white man.

With the recent buzz about interracial gay relationships dominating mainstream media, this comes as no surprise.

Admittedly, we’ve seen a lot of FICTIONAL interracial couples on scripted television and film lately. With the mixed race couples prominently showcased on Tyler Perry’s The Haves and Have Nots, Logo’s DTLA and Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine…seeing fictional black-on-black gay relationships in narrative content may have to be relegated to Web Series for now [or you can watch the new episode of The D.L. Chronicles for a small fee] .

Also, I couldn’t help but notice that most of the main cast for this show is light skinned. Like really light skinned. Seriously, look at the cast photo embedded above.

So you have television show about the world of Hip Hop primarily featuring a light skinned cast, most of them in interracial relationships.

I may be reading too much into all this but it looks like the producers were aiming for a large demographic by making the show as neutral, diverse and non-threatening as possible.

Official Trailer _ EMPIRE _ FOX BROADCASTING-3

Official Fox Synopsis:

From Academy Award nominee Lee Daniels (“Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “Precious”) comes EMPIRE, a sexy and powerful new drama about the head of a music empire whose three sons and ex-wife all battle for his throne.

LUCIOUS LYON (Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard, “Crash,” “Hustle & Flow”) is the king of hip-hop. An immensely talented artist, the CEO of Empire Entertainment and a former street thug, his reign has been unchallenged for years. But all that changes, when he learns he has a disease that is going to render him crippled and incapacitated in a matter of three years. The clock is ticking, and he must groom one of his three sons to take over his crowning achievement, without destroying his already fractured family.

Lucious’ favorite is his youngest son, HAKEEM (newcomer Bryshere Gray), a gifted musician and a spoiled playboy who values fame over hard work.

Official Trailer _ EMPIRE _ FOX BROADCASTING-5

The middle son, JAMAL (Jussie Smollett, “The Skinny,” “The Mighty Ducks”), is a sensitive soul and a musical prodigy who, unlike Hakeem, shies away from the spotlight. Jamal also happens to be gay, which infuriates and embarrasses his father.


ANDRE (Trai Byers, “90210”), the eldest son, is CFO of Empire Entertainment. Wharton-educated with a brilliant business mind, Andre lacks the charisma that Lucious believes is crucial to running the company. But in his quest for power, Andre is assisted by his manipulative and like-minded wife, RHONDA (Kaitlin Doubleday, “Hung,” “Catch Me If You Can”).

Official Trailer _ EMPIRE _ FOX BROADCASTING-1
As Lucious prompts his sons to vie for the empire, his plans are thrown into chaos when his ex-wife, COOKIE (Academy Award and Emmy Award nominee Taraji P. Henson, “Think Like A Man”), mysteriously emerges seven years early from prison, where she’s been for almost two decades. Brash and fearless, she sees herself as the sacrificial lamb who built this empire with Lucious and then took the fall for running the drugs that financed Lucious’ early career.

Official Trailer _ EMPIRE _ FOX BROADCASTING-2
For now, Lucious remains firmly in control of Empire Entertainment. He is attended to by his hard-working assistant, BECKY (guest star and Academy Award nominee Gabourey Sidibe, “American Horror Story,” “Precious”), and relies on longtime friend and Chairman of the Board VERNON TURNER (Malik Yoba, “Revolution,” “Girlfriends”) for advice and support. He relies on a whole lot more from ANIKA GIBBONS (newcomer Grace Gealey), the head of A&R for Empire, and his current girlfriend.

As the Lyons slug it out, an emotional chess game begins that will either cause the family’s destruction or redemption. Lives and loves will be lost as the complicated family will come together and fall apart over the elusive throne, all set to an original soundtrack written and produced by legendary hip-hop hitmaker Timbaland. Will the family unite and learn to love each other before it’s too late? Love, war, family, sacrifice, money and music: this is the story of the Lyons’ EMPIRE.

So that’s it.

Does the show look interesting?

Will the black gay character be accurately represented?

Will this be the successor to The L.A. Complex for black gay men?

Will we actually watch the show on television instead of bootlegged YouTube edits featuring only the gay storyline?