If a Fly on the Wall Could Talk: A Glimpse From “Out Damned Spot” Making the First Season of Fox’s Empire


I did my 3:30 am best to paint my face on and put my hair in curls. I always made an effort to show up looking the part rather than completely raw. TV is filmed at a faster pace than the movies. I liked that aspect. On set, a makeup artist and hairstylist redid my makeup, plumped up my sad curls and I was TV ready. A security guard walked me to set and I was struggling to keep my eyes open. I wore a fitted black pencil skirt, white button down, a black clip-on tie and apron; clearly I was supposed be a server at a high-end restaurant.

The set was held in an intimate upscale restaurant. White, undulating, organza tapestry hung over a honey colored wall creating an inviting warmth. The seats surrounding the tables were covered in fine, beige, nappa leather. A second level was partitioned from the rest of the venue with private glass encased dining rooms and Japanese sliding doors.
The camera crew had the place wired and lit. I took my place and waited for it all to begin. The PA came over with some direction. “When Terrance starts to pivot down the aisle, take your tray and begin to set the table.” I nodded and stayed in place.

Terrence was dressed in a grey suit and had a woman by his side donning a deep plum colored fur coat and false lashes that extended out like stacked daddy long legs. I didn’t know it then, but that woman was Cookie Lyon and hidden beneath all the mink was a lacy lingerie number that would later shock the masses when she confronted Terrence and Anika at dinner. It was quiet on set as we all waited for instruction. From across the room, Terrance Howard’s gaze met mine and I darted my eyes to the ground in submission. He didn’t break his stare and lured me back to his coy, hazel, sleepy, bedroom eyes. After every take, he would look my direction and repeated the action. I darted my eyes downward. Maybe the third or fourth time, I smiled and he smiled back. By now it was clear that his eyes were for me.

By the second scene, the PA had me start right in front of Mr. Howard. I was an earshot away and he whispered in his raspy voice, “good god you’re gorgeous.” My back turned, I was confused. I wasn’t sure if he was complimenting me or Taraji P. Henson. Between takes, he clarified any doubts I was having. He introduced himself and shook my hand. “My name is Terrence Howard and I think I’m in love with you.”

Terrence Howard, being a known method actor and given method acting’s reliance on the personal experiences of the actor, method actors often replicate external conditions of a role to create experiences they can call upon when acting. Moreover, considering Terrence Howard’s long string of failed marriages with mixed Asian women, I’d think it is safe to say that I sparked something in him. In fact, he told me I reminded him of one of his ex-wives who used to do auto shows. Between scenes, he came over to talk to me. The camera wasn’t rolling, but this was my chance to be the leading lady and I can tell you that it takes a hell of a lot of hustle and flow to banter with the star of “Hustle and Flow.” His persona off-screen was the same as usual culmination of  boyish charm and a slime ball schemer. I complimented him on that performance, he complimented my lip freckle.  I wasn’t sure whether to feel smitten in flattery or slap this philanderer upside the head. After we conversed, he invited me out to dinner the evening.

“I’d love to go to dinner. But why don’t we invite your wife? I’d love to meet her too.” I retorted.

“That was good…That was fun. I wish the cameras caught that,” he said as he smiled and walked away. He looked back one last time and inquisitively narrowed his eyes like I knew what was coming next.

Click here to see how it all transpired in case you didn’t already know 😉

Empire is returning to Fox on September 21st. Stay tuned as the excitement continues!



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