Chuck Hodes/Fox
Tim Stack
February 27, 2015 AT 09:41 PM EST

Fox’s Empire, the subject of this week’s EW cover story, pushes a lot of network television boundaries, including a major provocative plotline involving homophobic father Lucious (Terrence Howard) and his out gay son Jamal (Jussie Smollett). Howard admits he’s always striving for the show to remain as realistic as possible. “If we start getting silly, if we start playing to people’s fancies, then we don’t deserve to be where we are,” says Howard of the show’s success. “It’s a big pressure because I want to be a truth-sayer. I want to raise the bar. I want to get rid of this f—ed up word called PC. I think it’s a gate for bigotry because as long as you’re politically correct you can say anything you want but feel some way different.”

To that end, Howard would like to see the show go even further. “I’m mad that we don’t say n—- in the show,” he admits. “Why is TV showing something different from the reality of the world? Why is there a thing called censorship that stop people from hearing everyday talk? We use n—-every day. It’s become part of a conversation—why aren’t we using it in the show?”

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