Empire tells the story of a family trying to run a hip-hop label without exploding from the inside. Because the story is about the music industry, there have been many cameos from people within the industry. But there have been just as many cameos from great actors on the show.
It looks like Empire is going to keep up this tradition in Season 3. However is this practice actually working to make the show better? We decided to pick out the three best and the three worst celebrity cameos so far. These cameos showed their guest stars’ strengths and weaknesses for better or for worse.
6. Chris Rock
It’s really hard to go wrong when casting comedian Chris Rock. But instead of using his comedy chops, the show tried to make him play a hardened criminal. It’s really tough to make an audience take Rock seriously, let alone fear him and believe Lucious Lyon does too.
Rock played Frank Gathers who used to have Cookie and Lucious work for his drug business. Cookie ends up ratting him out in court, which puts Lucious in his crosshairs in prison. Pretty much anyone else would have been better than Rock in this role and more intimidating. When his character gets taken down it’s not at all shocking and doesn’t seem like that big of a feat for Lucious. This might be the worst cameo because there was so much they could have done with the comedy titan, but instead they wasted his talents by not writing a role worthy enough for him.
The actress hasn’t had any steady acting work since State of Georgia, so it was pretty surprising when she came on the screen as Olivia Lyon. She swoops in at Empire Entertainment with a cute little daughter and tells Jamal that “She wanted to meet her daddy!” Apparently she and Jamal used to be married which resulted in a love child named Lola.
However, she only gets two episodes on the show, which includes another bombshell. Turns out the baby isn’t Jamal’s but Lucious’s, who she had an affair with. Olivia dropped off her daughter to keep her safe from her jealous boyfriend and her boyfriend comes over to the Lyon household and is murdered.
In the end, this whole plot line doesn’t really have any consequences so it’s not worth telling. We never even get to see Lola again and the actress gets a few scenes that are forgettable. This is just a case of stunt casting that wasn’t very interesting.
4. Cuba Gooding Jr.
How could you go wrong with bringing an Oscar winner on your brand new show? Give him unflattering clothes and absolutely nothing to do! Cuba Gooding Jr. played Puma in Season 1, a character who was Cookie’s crush. He is a songwriter who also rides horses. He comes into play by giving a song to Jamal.
First of all, the actor has never been known to have any musical ability. The show had so much musical talent for cameos in Season 1 that it doesn’t make any sense why they would give this role to the actor. Secondly, we are supposed to see him as a potential love interest for Cookie, yet they took the actor’s natural smooth and sexy persona away with a terrible wardrobe.
Once again the show makes the mistake of getting someone great to agree to come on their show for an episode or two, but doesn’t write anything to play to their strengths. Sadly, everyone will forget the actor was ever even on the show because of how squandered he was.
3. Adam Rodriguez
The Jane the Virgin actor played Laz Delgado in Season 2. He comes on as a body guard but also as Cookie’s love interest. Unlike Cuba Gooding Jr., his character has sex appeal and you can see why Cookie is into him. He also does a lot with his five episodes by getting a full story arc.
Turns out Delgado has a bad boy side and is part of the Bull Boys gang. He is part of the plot to kidnap Hakeem and extort money from the Lyon Dynasty. You believe that he could be a romantic interest as much as you can believe he poses a very dangerous threat. His character is also someone who pushes the main characters’ story forward and the family is brought together. Sadly the actor won’t return to the show, but his story arc is one of the more memorable ones.
2. Naomi Campbell
She may be known as a supermodel, but don’t underestimate her acting ability! She plays Camilla Marks-Whiteman who has a romantic relationship with Hakeem. However Lucious doesn’t approve and offered her money to stay away from him. She leaves but she comes back harder than ever!
The actress is able to make you question the motives of her character all throughout the show which makes her very interesting. Is she actually in love with Hakeem or is she in it for the money? Will she take the hits from the family lying down or will she come up with a plot to take them all down? She comes across as a fully capable character who can be vulnerable when the moment asks her to. Campbell has definitely proven her acting ability through this role and made us want more of her character.
1. Courtney Love
This is another one of those cameos that just makes you scratch your head. But that’s probably why the singer blows it out of the water! She plays Elle Dallas, a rock icon who fell from grace. Cookie takes her under her wing in order to make her comeback on the music scene.
Although the role feels a little on the nose for Courtney Love, it was actually written with Whitney Houston in mind. But in the few episodes we get with the singer, we genuinely start rooting for her to be successful. The storyline is actually useful because we also see Cookie’s passion and skills in the music business. We also get a good song out of it. It’s really too bad that this cameo couldn’t have been stretched out a little longer.
Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice
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