Empire is an American musical drama television series created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong which revolves around a hip hop music and entertainment company, Empire Enterprises, and the drama among the members of the founders' family as they fight for control of the company.
Lucious Lyon (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' favourite is his youngest son, Hakeem (newcomer Bryshere Gray), a gifted musician and a spoiled playboy who values fame over hard work.
The middle son, Jamal (Jussie Smollett, North, 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).
As Lucious prompts his sons to vie for the empire, his plans are thrown into chaos when his ex-wife, Cookie (Taraji P. Henson, Person of Interest), 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 an empire with Lucious and then took the fall for running the drugs that financed Lucious' early career.
For now, Lucious remains firmly in control of Empire Entertainment. He is attended to by his hard-working assistant, Becky (guest star Gabourey Sidibe, American Horror Story, Precious), and relies on long-time 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 Empire.
Empire is from Imagine Television in association with 20th Century Fox Television. The series is created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong. The pilot is written by Daniels and Strong.
The series is executive produced by Daniels, Strong, Brian Grazer (24, Friday Night Lights, Parenthood), Ilene Chaiken (The L Word) and Francie Calfo (Those Who Kill, Gang Related). Daniels directed the pilot.