Being Gay And Black On TV Will Never Be The Same Again
“Empire” is a very sentimental towards our human beings.
Henson, yells after Lucious not to hurt their child. In another flashback scene, Lucious attempts to dump Jamal who looks to be around 4 years old into a trashcan. Empire was co-created by Lee Daniels, who has delivered riveting and at times, horrific tales of black American life.
Director Lee Daniels “holds up the mirror to us as human beings,” said Jussie Smollett, who plays a young black gay character on the new Fox series Empire.
One of the most gripping scenes in the first episode of Fox’s new series Empire is a flashback in which a younger version of Jamal Lyon — played by Jussie Smollett as an adult — walks in front of his parents and their friends, stumbling in his mother’s high heels and wearing one of her head scarves. He catches the disappointing, angry glare of his father, Lucious (Terrence Howard), who immediately jumps up, drags Jamal into a bedroom, and closes the door. His mother, Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), yells after Lucious not to hurt their child. In another flashback scene, Lucious attempts to dump Jamal — who looks to be around 4 years old — into a trashcan.
In the show’s present timeline, Jamal lives with his Latino boyfriend. His friends and family are aware of who he is, but he isn’t publicly out, seeing as his famous father — an incredibly successful rapper turned music mogul — isn’t supportive of him.
Empire was co-created by Lee Daniels, who has delivered riveting — and at times, horrific — tales of black American life. He was nominated for an Oscar for directing Precious, the 2009 film that depicts the emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of an obese New York teenage woman.
But the message of Empire — which premiered on Wednesday to 9.8 million viewers, making it Fox’s biggest new show in years — is particularly personal for the out gay filmmaker. When he signed on for the series, Daniels told BuzzFeed News, he was tired of seeing the same hyperfeminine portrayals of gay black men on screen. He wanted to give mainstream TV audiences something very different. “I think that the stereotype that we have seen … is like that of black women. That Aunt Jemima stereotype,” he said. “We went right for the gut with this one, turned the knife.”
Empire — a modern, black version of Shakespeare’s King Lear — centers on the Lyon family: patriarch Lucious; his ex-wife Cookie, who’s newly freed from prison; their power-hungry, Ivy League-educated oldest son Andre (Trai Byers); their youngest, Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray), a rapper on the rise; and middle child Jamal, a singer-songwriter prodigy.
Empire, Smollett said, is “not shoving anything down your throat. It’s not preaching, it’s not telling you the way that you should feel about a certain issue, but it is giving you options. Lee holds up the mirror to us as human beings.” Read more…