Herald Sun - Switched On - - ON THE COUCH -

Taraji P Hen­son is mother hen. The 45-year-old ac­tor keeps a close watch on Em­pire’s young cast mem­bers to make sure they don’t suc­cumb to Hol­ly­wood’s pit­falls.

Hen­son plays feisty Loretha “Cookie” Lyon, the ex-wife of Em­pire En­ter­tain­ment boss Lu­cious Lyon, on the hit mu­sic drama. The char­ac­ter was partin­spired by Joan Collins’s Alexis Car­ring­ton in Dy­nasty.

Lu­cious and Cookie have three sons — An­dre (Trai By­ers), Ja­mal (Jussie Smol­lett), and Ha­keem (Bryshere Y Gray), all of whom are vy­ing for top spot in their fa­ther’s busi­ness.

Cookie served 17 years in prison for drug deal­ing but now she is back to claim her share and get the best for her boys.

“I’d say that prob­a­bly 80 per cent is Cookie and 20 per cent is Taraji,” Hen­son says of her char­ac­ter.

Em­pire has been a mas­sive hit in the US, av­er­ag­ing nearly 20 mil­lion view­ers per episode. That suc­cess has rubbed off on the young cast, but Hen­son is keep­ing a close watch.

“I re­mem­ber last sea­son, they used to play my body­guard when we would go to Tar­get,” Hen­son says. “I’d be tick­led (think­ing) who’s gonna be your body­guard next sea­son (af­ter Em­pire’s suc­cess)?

“I’m like, yeah, you try go­ing to Tar­get now!”


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