The Lyon family may bring home the hip-hop bacon on Fox’s Empire each week, but IRL, the cast and crew’s chart-topping hits and solid acting chops also dominate the entertainment industry, a fact evidenced by its recent Golden Globe nomination for Best TV Series and Grammy nomination for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media.
So how does it feel to be honored? “I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel really cool to be acknowledged,” Jussie Smollett, who’s also up for an NCAAP Image Award, tells InStyle. “We got the taste of all of the awards pretty much and it’s great, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not, to me, the awards are kind of like the numbers. We know it and it’s dope, but I don’t really, I try to stay away from all of that because it’s not why we do it and the second that you get wrapped up in all of that, then it can get tricky with your mind.”
For Smollett, who received the news of Empire’s Globes nomination Thursday morning en route to perform on The View, there’s just one category he truly had his eyes set on. “I didn’t really care until I heard, I was like, ‘Was Taraji [P. Henson] nominated?’ And then I heard that she was and then I was just super happy.”
The actor portrays Henson’s singer-songwriter son Jamal on the drama and explains that the duo shares a similar mother-son relationship on set. “Taraji is so dope because every emotion that she feels, she feels it fully. She’s one of those people that she’s not afraid of her emotions, whether it’s happiness or sadness,” he says of the star, who has taught him to “just live freely.” “In those moments that I’m afraid of a scene or a storyline, Taraji’s there as a parent. To me, she’s the epitome of a woman. She’s strong and she’s fearless and she’s all of those things but she’s also delicate and vulnerable—she has the best energy.”