Taraji P. Henson Developing ‘Empire’ Spinoff Centered Around Her Character, Cookie

After Empire ended prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fans thought they would never see a proper ending. While they might not, they can still follow Cookie on her adventures as Taraji P. Henson has started working on the spinoff.

Taraji P. Henson in the Love Me Still episode of Empire
Taraji P. Henson in the “Love Me Still” episode of ‘Empire’ | FOX

Taraji P. Henson as Cookie on ‘Empire’

Loretha “Cookie” Holloway met a teenage rapping Dwight “Lucious” Walker and almost instantly fell for him against her father’s better judgment. However, she followed Lucious and helped him become a successful rapper.

The two funded his career by selling drugs and later married before bringing three sons into the world. Eventually, the police caught up with them, but Cookie took the wrap so Lucious could continue his career.

He started music label Empire Entertainment which quickly became successful and married then head of A&R, Anika Calhoun. After Cookie served her 17-year prison sentence, during which Lucious rarely spoke to her and later sent her divorce papers, Cookie returned seeking half of the company.

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They engaged in a power struggle before falling for each other again and re-marrying. However, the couple later split up, and Cookie went on to start Lyon Dynasty with her youngest son, Hakeem.

After Empire acquired their company, she briefly returned to the label before finding herself without Lucious. The likable co-founder landed a gig on a daytime talk show and joined Becky at a female-founded label, Bossy, which turned out to be a success.

‘Empire’ ended early due to COVID-19

The first few episodes of the sixth and final season of Empire foreshadowed the presumed deaths of Cookie and Lucious. In one scene, an unknown assailant shot the patriarch in the face, and he seemingly fell to his death.

Another scene depicting Cookie entering a car that immediately erupted into flames. However, their endings weren’t revisited after the first couple of episodes, and the show closed with both parents alive.

Due to COVID-19 related mandates, the production on Empire had to shut down midway through filming the penultimate episode, and the cast couldn’t shoot the intended finale. Therefore, the crew included moments from Episode 19 into Episode 18, where the series ended, to give fans a more satisfying ending.

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After the finale, Taraji P. Henson did an interview with Entertainment Weekly, where she opened up about the incomplete ending. She admitted it was distressing the series couldn’t end appropriately after the six years the crew and fans put into the show.

The actress also noted that she never starts any project that she can’t finish, which makes the situation more upsetting for her. Additionally, she said it would “haunt me for the rest of my life and career” if she can’t give the fans the intended finale.

Three months later, the actress announced she’s working on a Cookie spinoff.

Taraji P. Henson working on ‘Empire’ spinoff

Henson and her production company, TPH Entertainment, signed a new deal with 20th Century Fox TV for a few projects across several platforms. According to sources, an Empire spinoff centered around the fashion-forward feisty icon is the first project fans can expect from the new venture.

Written by Danny Strong, who previously served as co-creator, executive producer and writer for Empire, Stacy A. Littlejohn (Single Ladies, The Wanda Sykes Show), and Yolanda Lawrence (Empire producer), the series will likely revolve around Cookie as a newly single woman.

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Sanaa Hamri, who also worked on the Fox drama, is set to direct with Brian Grazer and Samie Falvey as executive producers.