Every season of Empire we’re introduced to a character that shakes things up. This season that Character is “Nessa," played by actress Sierra McClain. Nessa is street-smart singer with an edge and something to prove. She hits the scene performing “Free Freda Need Freedom,” a song that talks about racial injustice and police brutality.
What does this song mean to you?
SM: It was emotional when I first heard the song, and I was just honored that I was a part of bringing that issue to the light and to Empire’s audience. I was just honored to...I think, using music to bring all of these issues to the forefront is so important. Music is a universal language. Everybody understands that. You hear a song and you feel it, like everyone gets that. I was just honored to be a part of spreading the message.
What example does this statement make for this generation?
SM:* This generation really needs to come together and step and say, “We’re not going to stand for this right here and we’re not going to stand for that and we’re not going anywhere."
What are the similarities and differences between Nessa and Sierra?
SM:* Nessa is in love with music, so in that way we’re similar. We are different in a lot of ways. I had a strong male figure in my life, which was my father, but her male figure was Shyne, and you can tell it had a different effect on her and the decisions that she makes. As you can tell from the beginning of the season she is a little more introverted and when she got onstage her energy was big.
Can you hint to some things that are going to develop during the season?
SM:* They’re touching a little bit on Cookie’s past and a little bit of her backstory, which I think is going to be so interesting for everybody to see and learn about. That’s one thing I’m looking forward to everyone seeing. Also, Nessa and Andre’s storyline is going to continue to develop.
Has your role on the show brought more attention to your music off the show?
SM: I was scared to death when I booked this because I had never been in the studio and sang a whole song by myself. I was like, I don’t even know if I can do this. I did not know if my voice is going to be able to hold up or if I was going to be able to hold me own onstage. So It was a learning experience and a growing experience, and I’ve become a little big more confident. But working with those two girls (her sisters) and my father has prepared me for this moment.
There is no question Sierra’s stepping into her own spotlight on Empire and making a statement. Stay tuned to find out what happens with her character Wednesdays on Fox.