Jussie Smollett is arguably Empire‘s breakout star, but his character Jamal Lyon has been facing some real issues in season 2 since being handed the keys to the kingdom.
All Jamal worked for throughout the show’s first season is his father, Lucious Lyons’ (Terrence Howard) love and acceptance, finally earning it and the head position at Empire by season’s end. The series returned last week and fans immediately learned that all is not what it seems when it comes to running the Empire, resulting in a(nother) huge family rift and stifling his creativity.
Smollett took some time to chat with The Hollywood Reporter about Jamal’s season two struggles including what to expect from his currently complicated relationship with his mother Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), to how he’s changing along his new journey as the head of Empire.
What’s ahead for his and Cookie’s relationship
It’s a pretty hard pill to swallow, but they’re going through a rough patch. This is a very different type of dynamic. This whole power struggle between the family, is not the norm. They’re all changing, and they’re all becoming better and worse people. What we see is that this is a family. This is also a company. That’s why it’s called Empire, and it’s very complicated, but it makes for great television.
How Jamal’s new position at Empire has changed him
“I don’t think that Jamal was entirely ready to be head of Empire. The fact of the matter is that if you look at season one, it started to become that Empire represented all the sons. It wasn’t about a position, it was a position in your father’s eyes, and that’s what Empire represents. So they weren’t fighting even for the company, they were fighting for their father’s favoritism and approval and love. He wasn’t ready to run a damn company. The fool did not know that he was not going to be able to make music. He thought, ‘Oh, I’m running a music company. I’m going to create.’ He didn’t realize what it was going to be. And now, they’re such a proud people – the Lyon family. It’s all those things combined, but he didn’t know that it was going to be that way. It’s changing him, and an artist or a creator that cannot create their art makes for a very, very, very bitter human being.”