Now entering into its fourth season, Empire has become a cultural phenomenon, that according to the show’s co-creator, Lee Daniels, has left a lasting impact. “Culturally, what we’re doing is having African-Americans write. We’re giving jobs to Black people. It’s sort of historic when you really think about it,” says the director of films such as The Butler and Precious, as he sat alongside Empire star, Bryshere Gray with The Breakfast Club.
During the discussion with Charlemagne and Angela Yee, Daniels and Gray spoke on the family dynamic created by the Empire cast, their involvement in writing songs for the series and how the successful musical soap opera starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson has broken down barriers for people of color and has been used as a tool to help educate people on important topics like mental health.
The openly gay Daniels addressed mental health and some of the obstacles the Black community has faced when dealing with mental health issues. He expressed that he believes there’s a stigma that “is worse than homophobia” and is caused by a lack of communication surrounding the mental health crisis. “We don’t want to talk about mental issues,” he said. Later adding, “White people talk about it, but we seem to have a problem talking about it.”
An upcoming project the Academy Award-winning producer and director is excited to be a part of is a film about one of The Civil Rights Movement’s founding fathers, Bayard Rustin. The film, which is currently in the works, will focus on the social activist, who was ostracized from the political movement that preached equality due to his sexual preference.
Empire returns to the Fox network tomorrow at 8PM. To listen to all that Lee Daniels and Bryshere Gray covered during their The Breakfast Club interview, watch the full video above.