Taraji P. Henson is developing an Empire spin-off series at Fox centered around her iconic character, Loretha “Cookie” Lyons, as part of her two-year, first-look deal with the network. Empire co-creator Danny Strong is set to write for the series, along with Stacy A. Littlejohn and Yolonda Lawrence, and Lee Daniels will serve as a non-writing EP. According to The Hollywood Reporter, sources say the spin-off would follow Cookie as she moves to Los Angeles, and could feature some of her family members.
At its best, Empire was a delightfully soapy drama with some catchy music, but unfortunately, the show lost its focus after the first couple of seasons. However, even as my interest in the plot waned, I kept watching because of Cookie. Sure, Terrence Howard was billed as the star, but Taraji was electric as Cookie from the show’s very first episode—who could forget the scene where she literally grabs a broom out of her youngest son Hakeem’s hands and beats him with it after he has the audacity to call her a bitch? Cookie was funny, smart, emotionally compelling, and damn did she know how to dress! (Jezebel was particularly fond of her fur coats.)
Empire ended its sixth and final season prematurely in April of this year after the covid-19 pandemic forced an industry-wide shut-down before the show was able to shoot what were supposed to be its final two episodes. So in addition to the new story, the potential Cookie Lyons spin-off could also provide an opportunity to give a more satisfying end to the original show’s character arcs. (And also, more fur coats.)