The pop star duets with Jussie Smollett's Jamal in season 3 of the Fox series

By Tim Stack
September 07, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
Chuck Hodes/Fox
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IT’S FINALLY HAPPENING!!!! After years of rumors, Mariah Carey is set to guest-star on Empire. Good friend (and Precious director) Lee Daniels has been teasing a Carey cameo since the first season and decided enough was enough. “I said, ‘It’s time to put Mariah on the show because I am going to be a liar to the world and to her,’” says the show’s co-creator and EP with a laugh.

Carey will portray Kitty, a singer brought in by Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) to duet with Jamal (Jussie Smollett). The Lyon matriarch thinks working with a star as big as Kitty will help her son deal with his PTSD and stage fright after being shot near the end of last season. “She’s the one that sees everybody’s always telling Jamal what to do,” says Smollett. “From Lucious to Cookie to the media to his fans. Kitty is a person who’s a much bigger star than Jamal and she’s there to kind of be like, ‘Stop. He’s human.’”

An unabashed Carey fan, Smollett says it was a surreal experience. “I’m just like, ‘Yo, that’s Mariah Carey talking to me, telling me how to sing something on a duet with her,’” he says excitedly. “Get the f— up out of here!”

While Carey is currently slated only for the Oct. 5 episode, Daniels says he hopes Kitty will return and promises her Empire wardrobe is appropriately dramatic. (Please direct yourself to the aforementioned lacey, belted bodysuit). Teases Daniels, “Lots of hair and fishnets and stilettos!”

Cookie’s gonna be jeaaaalous! 

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

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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