“His story is all about Cookie,” Chaiken told reporters at the show’s panel during Fox’s Television Critics Association press day on Monday. “It starts out as a Jamal story and, like everything else, everybody intersects. But it’s primarily a story about Cookie.”
When asked if Angelo, who draws comparisons to Barack Obama, will be romantically linked to Cookie, Chaiken quipped, “He certainly would like to be.”
Taraji P. Henson said the politician will have to work hard to steal Cookie’s heart from Lucious (Terrence Howard), as she spends the new season attempting to move on from her estranged husband. “He’s going to have to work because Cookie’s gotten her heart broken way too many times,” she added.
Though Henson was mum on details, she did reveal she’s worked with Diggs already.
“Who knew Taye Diggs is funny?” Henson said. “He’s a riot! He is funny. I enjoy working with him and he’s easy on the eyes.”
Empire closed out its second season with a literal cliffhanger, with the fates of Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday) and Anika (Grace Gealey) in question, and while Chaiken didn’t divulge who might meet their untimely end, she did speak to killing off characters as a plot device.
“Apart from some specific entertainment industry tricks that we fell into a little bit, what we try to be mindful of is that even though we’re telling stories, you can’t do that lightly,” she said. “Killing [a character] is not your go-to move. It’s a huge move and we always challenge ourselves to find other places to go before we go there because that’s an endgame.”
In the second season, Empire was criticized for killing off two lesbian characters, Camilla (Naomi Campbell) and Mimi (Marisa Tomei). Chaiken addressed the criticism at length.
“The ‘kill your gays’ trope, I personally didn’t think we were falling into it, but I did think we did get drawn into it and I’m respectful of the way it’s been taken up in public conversation,” Chaiken continued. “Anytime we go near any issue like that, we try and be very mindful of it and responsible.”
As for what fans can expect when Empire returns Sept. 21, expect the cliffhanger to be resolved quickly. “The question that’s posed is answered in a fabulous and heart-stopping way,” Chaiken promised.