If you have not watched this week’s episode of Empire yet, go no further, there are spoilers!
If so, proceed:
If you saw last night’s Empire you saw a cliff hanger ending with the one and only Raven-Symoné making her grand entrance as the possible baby mama of Jamal’s child! Yeah, folks were like, “whaaat?!” Well, that’s what the writers/producers want the Lyon family (and you) to believe.
Unfortunately, you won’t get to see Raven again until episode 10. But the one-time star of That’s So Raven and Cosby Show alum told Vulture, her character, Olivia, is gettin’ ready to shock you silly!
Oh yeah, then, we can’t wait.
In a Q&A, Ms. Symoné spoke on the episode’s baby-mama drama, Jamal’s complicated sexuality, and how she got the part.
How did you get involved with Empire?
Interestingly enough, I was on the set already visiting friends — Jussie Smollett, Terrence Howard, and everybody — just saying hi and seeing how everyone was doing. I was there for a little while and then I got a call from my manager and he was like, “Are you in Chicago?” I said, “Yeah, why?” “They want you to do this role coming up.” And I said, “Wow! I would like to.” So it was perfect timing.
Did they tell you much about Olivia and the bomb she’d be dropping on her first episode?
Oh, yeah, I knew about it beforehand. I definitely have to know what I’m gonna be playing before I say yes to it. You can have the most fabulous show in the world, but there’s just some things I won’t be part of because of what I believe as a human being. I think this role is very juicy and her story line, in the future, is going to shock people. And, being Empire — knowing the amount of juiciness that comes off of those pages — it’s a force to be reckoned with. So I had to be a part of it, especially since, Lee Daniels, we’ve had meetings before in the past. And he definitely picked the [character] that, like, this is what I’ll do before it goes over the edge.
Tell me about Olivia’s backstory.
She used to be Jamal’s backup singer. There’s a lot of stuff going on — we definitely have a very odd history together. She was a part of his life for a few years for — how do I say this? — contractual and covering-up reasons. I don’t really know how much I want to tell you because her story does get told in the next episode, along with more interesting details that I think only Cookie and Jamal will be able to explain better than I can.
Ilene Chaiken, Empire’s executive producer, recently said that your character has only one more appearance this season. Any plans to bring her back for season two?
That’s up to the producers. Hopefully, my job was done well and the audience and supporters of Empire enjoy the story that she brings. In my honest opinion, being a baby mama, you always got somethin’ [in store]. So, we’ll see.
I imagine fans were shocked not just by the news that Jamal might have a child, but that he slept with a woman. From what we’ve been told so far, he’s gay — and has known he’s gay since he was a child. What do you make of that twist?
I wasn’t impressed or surprised because we live in a culture where people have to hide who they truly love from the beginning. You’ll see a man married to a woman or a woman married to a man, but after 15, 25, or 30 years get divorced and then say, “I’m gay.” It’s just because of the hatred that comes in our society; people don’t understand. So, it didn’t surprise me. What does surprise me is the outcome of the situation at the end of the next episode you see me in. But him being with a woman or having a kid, in that sense, doesn’t surprise me at all. It happens every day.
Get the rest of this Q&A at Vulture