Taraji P. Henson is developing an Empire spinoff series as part of a new first-look deal with 20th Century Fox TV, the same network who cancelled Empire.
“I believe normalizing stories around stigmatizing matters will make them more palatable for audiences to embrace,” Henson said. “Art can change perception, and I plan to develop projects that can help further the conversation. I also aim to help cultivate and establish new young talent and their stories because they are our future and deserve a voice and a platform to be heard. I’m so excited to have 20th, led by the talented Carolyn Cassidy, support me in this new endeavor!”
The spinoff series, centered around Henson’s character Cookie Lyon, will be written and executive produced by Empire co-creator Danny Strong, along with Stacy Littlejohn and Yolanda Lawrence with the trio serving as co-showrunners should the project pilot get picked up. Empire veteran Sanaa Hamri will direct while Henson, Empire co-creator Lee Daniels, Brian Grazer, and Samie Falvey executive produce.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic induced earlier than expected conclusion of once blockbuster Empire‘s sixth and final season on Fox back in April, both Henson and Daniels made no secret of their shared desire to see Cookie’s saga continue. “I don’t know what that is and I’m not a part of it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone was trying to work on something,” Empire showrunner Brett Mahoney asserted in the spring of the possible spinoff.
“We were lucky to have a front-row seat to Taraji’s meteoric rise as a fixture on television through Empire,” added 20th Century Fox TV president Cassidy Thursday. “Through that relationship, everyone at the company grew to appreciate her passion for storytelling and her strong creative gut instinct. With Empire finished we look forward to helping her explore stories that need to be told through her talent and advocacy.”