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EMPIRE'S Jussie Smollett, Lee Daniels & Ilene Chaiken Defend Jamal's Surprising Tryst!

Courtesy/FOX

Courtesy/FOX

If you caught Wednesday’s midseaon finale of Fox’s Empire, you know that it was revealed that Jamal (Jussie Smollett) and Skye (Alicia Keys) hooked-up!

Yes, apparently off-camera the fictional duo hit the sheets!  This move set many viewers aflame, because of the fact that Jamal is gay, so how come he would now turn to a woman?  Series star Jussie Smollett and Empire creator Lee Daniels, both out in real life defended the story choice, as did executive producer, Ilene Chaiken.

There was even a moment in the midseason finale where Jamal’s homophobic father Lucious (Terrence Howard) is proud of the fact that it looks like Skye “changed” Jamal, which reinforces the notion still believed by some, that a gay man can turn straight for the right woman.

Jussie and Lee spoke to TV Insider on this controversial story point, where Daniels admitted: “I went into this hoping Jussie and I would not get backlash from our people. But I’m prepared for it. This is a topic that needs to be discussed, not just on Empire but also within the gay community and especially within the African-American community. I was able to get a lot off my chest with the Jamal-Skye relationship. Jussie and I both share the same feeling that, yes, even though we are gay, we’re sexual human beings. And we do occasionally want to sleep with a woman. [Laughs] Maybe once every 10 or 15 years, but it happens!”

Smollett says the connection with Skye was about intimacy more than sex relating: “These are two misunderstood people who connect when they create music together, something that happens all the time with artists.  Skye and Jamal are brought together in a way the audience may not necessarily understand—and maybe it’s not for anybody to understand except for them. This may sound crazy, but I think Jamal’s thing with Skye is one of the most honest and pure relationships he’s had in a long, long time. He’s not getting anything close to that from men right now. Skye is an artist in a box who wants to break out of that box and no one understands that better than Jamal. They’ve both been labeled and that’s something they can bond over. Right now, they only have each other.”   The talented actor/singer went on to say: “Jamal is a gay man having a bisexual experience.  No one is saying he has fallen in love with Skye. But if you’re gonna go straight for anybody, it should be for the sexy and brilliant Alicia Keys. I mean, Bruh!”

Meanwhile series EP, Ilene Chaiken told TV Line if she was worried of the pushback by having Jamal sleep with a woman, to which she answered:  “Yes and yes,  Thematically, the conversations we love having on Empire are about identity, labels, fluidity. Those are core issues for us — and really interesting, provocative stories to tell. Plus, the story of gay identity has been told on television. We felt ready to push beyond, to talk about all of the nuances of experience and not be bound by the conventional script. And with the number of gay people involved in the creating and writing of this show, we talked about all of our experiences. There’s a spectrum of gay identity, behavior and attraction. And we wanted to talk about it in a provocative way based on experiences we all had. And Lee Daniels and Jussie Smollet come at it from certain points of view — and I’m very interested in hearing what actors have to say about the characters they play. There are gay men and gay women who, at least on occasion, have found themselves at least fleetingly attracted to someone of the opposite sex. And Lee and I have discussed how as artists, especially, when you’re creating. how exciting and sexual that can be. It felt like a great story to tell for Jamal — if he really connects with an artist who happens to be a woman, and they have this momentary spark — what could stop that from happening. And why shouldn’t we tell that story?”

So, what are your thoughts on the plotpoint: Do you see it plausible that Jamal and Skye slept together? Did you like the story beat?  Did it not sit well with you?  What did you think of the explanation of the shock value to the story beat from Smollett, Daniels, and Chaiken?  Did you enjoy the midseason finale of Empire?  What was your favorite moment in it, since it contained much more then this controversial story beat? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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john uzoTnT 2.0 ForeverPaulrebecca1Mateo Recent comment authors
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Andy G.
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Andy G.

“Empire” creator Lee Daniels has repeatedly referred to the series as his black version of the 80s prime time soap “Dynasty.” Perhaps this story line serves as further homage to the original, wherein token gay character Steven Carrington slept with far more women than men. However, doing so foolishly ignores all of the progress toward mainstream acceptance that LGBT Americans have made in the last 30 years. The Jamal/Skye story line feels dated, contrived, and like a bone thrown to the more homophobic elements of the hip hop audience, which is why I must call “BS” on the whole thing.… Read more »

MarcAnthony
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MarcAnthony

Amen!!

Harvey Allen
Guest
Harvey Allen

DITTO

Mateo
Guest
Mateo

The message this “plot device” sends is that one woman can change a gay man. Even once. It is the wrong message. Of course the creator and actor in the series are going to defend the story point. If they don’t support it, they won’t be employed. I find it cowardly to say that every gay man will sleep with a woman if the “right” one presents themselves. Let’s be honest and admit that the average gay man does not want to get it on with a woman. No matter what the situation is. Don’t call it being “a sexual… Read more »

rebecca1
Guest
rebecca1

I don’t think you REALLY watched or understood this episode, Mateo. It was about two PEOPLE connecting on more than just a physical attraction or preference. There was no implication that he was suddenly not gay, that he no longer was attracted to men. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite, which is why he was flirting with the guy at the club. It was also apparent that Lucius WANTED this to be the miracle “cure” for his son…which only put a spotlight on how some people still don’t truly understand. It was evident that Jamal was disappointed in… Read more »

Mateo
Guest
Mateo

First of all DO NOT EVER tell me that I didn’t understand something. I understood it perfectly. I have seen this story point used on various other shows and it all means the same thing. That subtle message that says if you’re gay, it’s because you haven’t found the right woman to “turn” you. As a member of the gay community I hear many guys say they feel an attraction to different women for different reasons but it’s never on a sexual side. I won’t relax and sip the Kool-Aid like you are suggesting. It wasn’t completely natural and beautiful.… Read more »

rebecca1
Guest
rebecca1

Now noww…no need to shout. Lol…from your reaction I still think you misunderstood…misread…the dynamic of these two people…sharing a moment in time, and the writers intent. You’re one man…and if Jamal’s experience isn’t yours, that’s valid. But there are gay people who meet one or more people outside of their community that they’re drawn to. If happens with straight people too. Not ALL people.

Sorry you were so offended by the episode and my comment…but…my opinion stands.

rebecca1
Guest
rebecca1

And one more thing Mateo. You’ve taken a one night stand…which may turn out to be all it was…will be…to conclude that he’s found a woman to love and he’s going to wind up with her and suddenly realize he’s not gay. It was obvious he loved his boyfriend…probably still does. But we saw in earlier episodes Jamal didn’t feel like he understand his music or the business. You say gay men don’t lead with their heart but another part of their anatomy. Got news for you…straight men and women react to sexual attraction…chemistry…first thing too. But Jamal already knew… Read more »

TnT 2.0 Forever
Guest
TnT 2.0 Forever

@Mateo

I still don’t get how acknowledging sexual fluidity is “spin”. Like it or not, some gay people find themselves attracted to someone of the opposite sex and some straight people find themselves attracted to someone of the same sex. Sexuality is a continuum. Not all straight people are 100% straight and not all gay people are 100% gay. Bisexuality is real and does exist. Biphobia is just as bad a homophobia.

Paul
Guest
Paul

Jamal is not bi. He is GAY. Don’t start some biphobia discussion in this thread. To Mateo’s point, no gay man confident in his own skin, suddenly hooks up with a woman. My season pass for Empire has been cancelled.

TnT 2.0 Forever
Guest
TnT 2.0 Forever

You don’t know for sure if he is bi or not. You can’t determine someone’s sexual identity for them or how they want to identify themselves. Besides what does it mean to be bisexual? Does it only include people who are equally attracted to both sexes? What about people who are mostly attracted to members of the opposite sex but occasionally are attracted to members of the same sex? Someone like Angelina Jolie, is she straight or bisexual? Or someone like Lee Daniels who is mostly attracted to other men but on occasionally sexually attracted to women? Is he gay… Read more »

Trophy Lady
Guest
Trophy Lady

I say go for it! Why the heck not? This is always the case with women who are supposed to be straight, and then they end up hooking up with women. But that is supposed to be “sexy,” right? They’re just experimenting, right? So, why can’t a man be gay, and then turn around and sleep with a woman? Why isn’t that just as “sexy”? Why isn’t he encouraged to “just experiment” as well? So, when a gay man does this back and forth, it’s supposed to be appalling and insulting to the gay community. BUT when a woman does… Read more »

Alan
Guest
Alan

Not surprised. Soap writers always seem to think that every gay man (Dynasty’s Steven Carrington, OLTL’s Oliver Fish, DOOL’s Will Horton) ends up in bed with a woman at some point in his life (we don’t) yet NEVER consider having their straight male characters experiment with same sex interactions (Y&R’s Adam Newman/Rafe Torres fling being the sole exception). I suppose the former situations are to make gay men more palatable to the mainstream and the lack of the latter is so that straight male characters are seen as real men. EMPIRE has definitely hit its sophomore slump and needs to… Read more »

Scott (ATWT Fan)
Guest
Scott (ATWT Fan)

I’m insulted and honestly turned-off right now by this show, and how it’s handling Jamal’s sexuality. It’s insulting and it reinforces the belief that being gay is a “choice”, which it is not.

rebecca1
Guest
rebecca1

It spooooo does not imply that. What IS a choice is to love or make love with any person that you feel connected to at a particular moment in your life. Freedom of choice doesn’t mean you choose to be straight or gay…just means we’re all free to connect with anyone of a different race, religion, age, gender…if we feel the connection even in spite of or lack of the “desired preferences.”

penny
Guest
penny

This is wicked crazy because over a month ago I posted on blog about this very thing. I wanted to understand why it was acceptable in the homosexual community for a heterosexual to dip into the homosexual life but they get all bent out of shape if a homosexual dips into the heterosexual life. People are wired differently rather your gay, bi, tri or straight. It’s ridiculous to assume what Daniels did takes away from what LGBT have achieved and still achieving in the 21st Century. IMO this has nothing to do with someone’s choice of sexuality but more to… Read more »

TnT 2.0 Forever
Guest
TnT 2.0 Forever

I agree! Bisexuality is real. People complain about homophobia but it seems that biphobia is also a major issue as well. Its sad that some people believe that denying bisexuality as a part of the human sexual experience is the only way to end discrimination against gays. No one gets ahead by being in denial.

rebecca1
Guest
rebecca1

I’m a straight, white woman, older than Jessie Smolett, and totally attracted to him. Sexuality IS fluid…and connecting to another human being can cause a spark which might not have ignited on physical attraction alone. I found Jamal and Alicia Keys character connection from the beginning and thought they were great together. The way they bonded over the lyrics to the song as they sang together, the shared, meaningful glances…incredible chemistry! Totally plausible. In that moment they weren’t defined preferences, they were two human beings feeling their connection. When he wrapped himself around her during rehearsal, drawing nearer, sweeping back… Read more »

TnT 2.0 Forever
Guest
TnT 2.0 Forever

It seems that some in the gay community feel insecure about their identity as gay people. Sexuality is fluid. Bisexual people exist and are real. I don’t see this need to pretend that bisexuality does not exist in the gay and straight communities.

Nk3play2
Guest
Nk3play2

I honestly took Jamal and Skye’s “romance” as Jamal living out a childhood fantasy. The character – Jamal said he grew as a superfan of the Skye Summers character and I think at that young age, sexuality isn’t a factor. I think Jamal is attracted to the persona that he sees in Skye, and it just so happens that she’s a woman. I honestly think he is FAR from straight or bisexual, he just seems to be living out a fantasy. And I honestly can’t speak on this subject because I’m not a gay man. However, I trust Lee Daniels… Read more »

4ever DAYS
Guest
4ever DAYS

By the looks of many comments in this thread and elsewhere at this site, many gay men would love to have the “B” taken out of the LGBT or do they think the “B” stands for Bitches?

john uzo
Guest
john uzo

I am a gay guy……i like guys bt dat dosent mean am nt smtimes attracted to women…….the gay community has looked into jamal loved life and maybe dey felt hope through it and now that he kissed skye,everyone is condeming the show….no one knows whether jamal maybe gay or bisexual either way when I was wathching the episode….I saw two people connectin tru music…..jamal has had his up and down with men None of dem bein able to understand him when it came to music bt when he was singing with skye,he forgot whether he was gay or not and… Read more »

Breaking News

‘Empire’s’ Diamond White Lands Contract Role on The Bold and the Beautiful

Look for The Bold and the Beautiful to add to their cast with news on Thursday that Diamond White (previously see on Empire as Lala) will take on the role of Zoe’s (Kiara Barnes)sister, Paris Buckingham on the CBS daytime drama.

Paris and Zoe are the daughters of crime-ridden Dr. Reese Buckingham (Wayne Brady) who was sent to the slammer for his baby-switch plot involving baby Beth and his gambling debts.

White will begin taping her new role tomorrow on Friday, and will first are on the November 2nd episode of B&B.  Deadline first reported the news.

Besides her role on Empire, Diamond has had a recurring role on Netflix’s Dear White People, as well as a guest art on ABC’s Fresh off the Boat, and more,

Looks like the Buckingham sisters might have their eyes set on Carter (Lawrence Saint-Victor) , the incoming Zende (Delon de Metz) and who knows who else on the canvas!

So, what do you think about a new Buckingham in the mix on B&B? Comment below.

 

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Taraji P. Henson Developing Cookie Lyon ‘Empire’ Spinoff With New First-Look Deal Via 20th Century Fox

Looks like more ‘Cookie’ is on the way, if this long bantered about Empire spinoff takes place.  But, news today via Deadline makes the whole thing look more promising! Series star, Taraji P. Henson has signed a new first-look deal with 20th Century Fox where she would star and be one of the EP’s of the new show.

The show would be written by Empire EP Danny Strong with Stacy A. Littlejohn and Yolonda Lawrence, and Empire director Sanaa Hamri to take those reins again behind the camera.

Henson said in a statement on the deal: “I believe that normalizing stories around stigmatizing matters will make them more palatable for audiences to embrace.  Art can change perception and I plan to develop projects that can help further the conversation.  I also aim to help cultivate and establish new young talent and their stories because they are our future and deserve a voice and a platform to be heard. I’m so excited to have 20th, led by the talented Carolyn Cassidy, support me in this new endeavor!”

20th Century Fox TV president Carolyn Cassidy shared on Thursday: “We were lucky to have a front row seat to Taraji’s meteoric rise as a fixture on television through Empire.  Through that relationship everyone at the company grew to appreciate her passion for storytelling and her strong creative gut instinct. With Empire finished we look forward to helping her explore stories that need to be told through her talent and advocacy.”

Empire ended its sixth and final season a bit shorter than expected due to COVID-19 shutting down production, but now Henson has a way forward to tell us more of Cookie’s story.  This would just be one of the projects Henson would have under this deal with 20th Century Fox.

So, would you like to see more Cookie Lyon in a spinoff of Empire? Comment below.

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‘Empire’ star Bryshere Gray Arrested On Domestic Violence Charges After Allegedly Assaulting Wife

More legal trouble for the Lyon children of Fox’s former show Empire.   Now comes word that Bryshere Gray, who played Hakeem Lyon, was arrested near Phoenix on Monday after his wife told authorities he had assaulted her for hours and preceded to choke her unconscious at their home in Goodyear, Arizona on Sunday night.

Police arrested Gray early Monday outside his home, and related that the actor initially refused to come out of the house, so a SWAT team was employed and crisis negotiations experts were called on to the scene.

Gray was later taken into custody and booked at the infamous Maricopa Country Jail on charges of domestic violence.

As to the events that precipitated Bryshere’s arrest: initially police responded to a 911 call Sunday night, where the caller said that an adult female allegedly told him that she has been assaulted multiple times by her husband inside their home.  She then names herself as Bryshere Gray’s wife and Gray as the suspect.

Later via a press release, police said the woman had flagged down a bystander at a local gas station and told the driver that she had been assaulted for several hours. Police said she clearly was injured and told them her husband had choked her to the point where she lost consciousness. The woman was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at a local hospital and later released.

Gray appeared in all six seasons of Empire and landed BET,  NAACP Image and Teen Choice awards during his run.

Check out the mug shot below of Gray’s arrest via a tweet put out by the Goodyear Police Department below.  TMZ first reported the news.

So, what do you think of the domestic violence charges against Gray? Comment below.

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