31 TV Characters Trumps America Needs Right Now

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Image via FOX

24. Cookie Lyons- Empire

Cookie Lyons (Taraji P. Henson) is the matriarch on Empire, Fox’s musical drama series. Being the ex wife of a former drug dealer turned hip-hop musical tycoon, she’s had her fair share of obstacles to overcome. She got thrown in jail, taking the fall for her ex husband, and when she gets out, she makes it her mission to reclaim the family business she helped build. She’s witty, quick, and sarcastic and falls victim to nobody. Her strength and power outshines any other character on the show.

Henson talked to Elle about Cookie’s personality, and said she had been waiting 20 years for a role like this one. “It’s an all-black cast, and we say so, but it’s a hit because the shit is good. Period. End of story.

Attica Locke, the writer and co-producer of Empire explains why Cookie’s character resonates so well with black women in an interview with NPR: “I think everybody knows a Cookie; she’s your aunt, or she’s your cousin, she’s your great-aunt, your grandmother. Everybody has got that one black woman in their life who spoke the truth unapologetically, unabashedly and bravely.” She also notes how her character came to be: “The show is not concerned with the white gaze at all. We were playing inside baseball with black culture the whole time. And we were given free rein to do that, certainly by Lee, also by Ilene Chaiken, who is our executive producer, and by Fox. They let us be wholly and completely black. And absent that white gaze, Cookie is free.” Locke adding, “Her type of humor, her type of wisdom, is being showcased in a way that I don’t think we’ve seen in a black character on TV.”