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When Empire returns to Fox tonight (Sept.27) at its new time at 8 pm, it will be clear that the drama is the flagship series of the network. Terrance Howard and Taraji P. Henson, both Academy Award-nominated actors, return to lead the ensemble cast and were among the cast Hip-Hop Wired spoke to before the season premiere.

In Empire, they have helped sculpt a hit series and an iconic brand. Created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong in 2015, Empire has broken records and garnered critical acclaim. Now more than ever, the show has shown the ability to pull in major guest stars and to pull off major plots. “Our show is not just a drama, it also has some soap opera elements,” says Howard, “So we’re always balancing those elements and maintaining a sense of ‘realness.’”

Season 4 of Empire finds Lucious Lyon in the throes of amnesia surrounded by a family that he no longer knows and cared for by his creepy new nurse, Claudia, played by Demi Moore. “There are definitely going to be some great scenes with Cookie, but not in a she’s after my man sort-of-way, I think Claudia is really trying to help Lucious, or Dwight as she always calls him, regain his soul.” Empire has long been able to draw in big name stars to join the show in recurring roles. Eva Longoria, Nia Long, and Phylicia Rashad all appeared in Season 3. This season, Moore joins her daughter, Rumer Willis, as part of the star-powered cast; although there are currently no plans for their characters to interact. “For me, Empire is about fun and family.”

“Dealing with the issue of bi-polar disorder in this show has given a lot of people courage.”-Trai Byers

In an age where diversity in television is a huge talking point, being the minorities on a show resonates for Moore and Willis, “I think that’s pretty incredible,” Willis explains, “I think we are in an age where we are starting to see, at least in the past year or so that issues that we thought that we were a lot farther in, we are probably not as far as we thought. It makes me happy and really excited to see a show that has such diversity.” Moore takes it a step further with a challenge, “I love it, it feels natural. The only thing that I haven’t seen yet from Empire is a woman director, so I’d love to see that.”

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Photos: FOX

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