Taye Diggs will recur in a story that's 'all about Cookie,' says showrunner Ilene Chaiken

By Dan Snierson
August 08, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
Paras Griffin/Getty Images; Chuck Hodes/FOX
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There could be a juicy meeting of the minds — or a diva dust-up — on Empire this fall: Mariah Carey has been confirmed as a guest star in season 3 of the Fox music drama. She plays a massive star and Empire artist who collaborates with Jamal (Jussie Smollet) on “an explosive new song,” which could have her sharing a little screen time with Jamal’s mom, Cookie (Taraji P. Henson).

At an Empire panel at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour on Monday, Henson indicated that she will in fact have a Mariah moment. “She was great. She’s fabulous, she’s beautiful to look at. I wish I could wear a leotard like that,” Henson quipped. “She brings a sense of what Mariah brings to the music industry. I’m grateful that she spent time with little old us.”

Henson also praised another season 3 guest, Taye Diggs, who will have a recurring role as Harvard Law-educated city councilman Angelo Dubois, a man who was born into a wealthy family, but spends his time on community issues and local politics. “He is funny!” said Henson. “Who knew Taye Diggs was so funny? He’s a riot… I enjoy working with him, and he’s easy on the eye.”

“His story is all about Cookie,” explained showrunner Ilene Chaiken. “It starts as a Jamal story and like everything else, everybody intersects with him, but it’s primarily a story about Cookie.” Could he serve as a love interest for her? “He certainly would like to be.”

In other news, Chaiken said that “Cookie is going to try in season 3 to leave Lucious [Terrence Howard],” that there “certainly could be” a spin-off with either Cookie or Lucious down the road, and that it’s “not outside the realm of possibility” that Empire could do a crossover with co-creator Lee Daniels’ new Fox music drama Star, though it hasn’t been discussed yet.

As for the resolution on that season 2 finale balcony cliffhanger in the season 3 premiere, Henson joked, “We all die and then we’re resurrected,” before Chaiken added: “I will say that the question that was posed gets answered in a fabulous and heartstopping way.” Chimed in exec producer Sanaa Hamri: “In five seconds.”

Empire returns on Sept. 21 at 9 p.m.

Episode Recaps

Lee Daniels and Danny Strong created this Fox drama about a kingpin of hip-hop (played by Terrence Howard) and his family, who fight him for control of the empire.
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