Taraji P. Henson is developing an Empire spin-off series. The actress signed a two-year first look deal with 20th Century Fox and the spin-off is the first order of business. Fans of the hit show were pretty disappointed when they found out that the true series finale will never air. The studio scrapped the final two episodes, though some of the 19th episode appeared in the 18th and final episode of the series. Producers have promised to reveal how it was supposed to end at some point down the line.
The long-rumored Cookie Lyon series will be written and executive produced by Danny Strong, Stacy A. Littlejohn, and Yolonda Lawrence. Empire's Sanaa Hamri is set to direct, with Taraji P. Henson, Lee Daniels, Hamri, Brian Grazer, and Samie Falvey set to executive produce the pilot. Strong re-signed with 20th Century Fox late last year and Henson has spoken about wanting to tell a different side of Cookie Lyon's story for quite some time now.
Taraji P. Henson says, "I believe that normalizing stories around stigmatizing matters will make them more palatable for audiences to embrace," when talking about her new deal and the Empire spin-off. Back in April Empire showrunner Brett Mahoney was asked about a possible spin-off and claimed to have no idea about it, but noted, "I wouldn't be surprised if someone was trying to work on something." Henson had this to say.
"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!"
Taraji P. Henson isn't the only one who is excited to continue the Empire story. Fans of the hit show will more than likely be really happy to see Cookie Lyon return, and who knows, maybe some more members of the cast will appear. The studio is also really happy about the deal with Henson and the spin-off. You can read what 20th Century Fox TV president Carolyn Cassidy had to say below.
"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."
Public health concerns stopped Fox from moving forward with the final two episodes of Empire. However, showrunner Brett Mahoney has said that he would like to shoot the rest someday. Shooting the "true" series finale "is the hope and the dream," says Mahoney. While it's uncertain if that will ever happen, fans might get some real closure with the spin-off series. For now, we'll just have to wait and see. Deadline was one of the first outlets to report on the Empire spin-off.