‘Empire’ Star Grace Gealey aka Boo Boo Kitty Talks Season 2, Fight With Taraji P. Henson’s Cookie Lyon

“They wanted my double to do it and I was like, ‘No, no, I want to do it!'” actress tells TheWrap

“Empire” is set to make an epic return to Fox for its second season, with all eyes on the hip hop soap opera to see if it can match its impressive ratings from Season 1.

TheWrap caught up with one of the show’s breakout stars, Grace Gealey, who plays Anika (or Boo Boo Kitty if you’re Cookie), to talk about her character’s arc in Season 2 and how her life has changed since the show debuted.

Gealey revealed that her favorite scene from the first season was the crazy smackdown her character had with Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) at the end of the season. She also said that fans shouldn’t expect any reunion between her and Lucious (Terrence Howard).

Read the full Q&A with Gealey below.

TheWrap: What will Anika’s relationship with Cookie be like this season?
Grace Gealey: “I think that even though Cookie and Anika are very different, they’re very similar in a lot of ways too. They’re both businesswomen, they’re both independent, they’re both very indomitable, and they’re purpose driven. And sometimes when that can walk hand in hand it can reap very powerful results. And I think as you follow them along this journey you get to see them negotiate that. You’ll definitely see some interesting twists and turns in their dynamic. It’s going to be much more multi-dimensional than it was last season.

empire finale cookie fight anika

What will Anika’s relationship with Lucious be like this season?
I don’t think there’s hope for Lucious and Anika at this point. I think that there’s been so much history with the two of them, I really don’t see them getting back together and talking about wedding plans again. But in the world of ‘Empire’ we’re used to seeing an episode where you start off and–like one episode last season where everyone was like, ‘Hey, let’s do a family album.’ But by the end of the episode, no one’s doing a family anything. So there could be some twists and turns in that relationship as well.

Since she calls you Boo Boo Kitty, what nickname would you give Cookie?
I really like the one Lucious came up, which was Cookie Monster. I really love that one so that would be great.

What has been your craziest fan encounter since the show debuted?
There was this one time recently, I was walking into–a friend of of mine was doing a play here in Chicago. It was this hole in the wall theater kind of thing and I went to go see him. When I walked in, the girl who was greeting everybody just started freaking out. She was like, ‘Oh my God, oh my God!’ And I didn’t want to bring attention to the fact that I was there. I just wanted to sneak in and watch the show. I touched her and I said, ‘Hi, don’t, don’t’ and she goes, ‘Oh my God, she touched me!’ She was so cute. I was like, ‘I can’t believe this girl’s freaking out like this.’ It was really adorable.


How do you think the show has impacted pop culture?
With the music aspect, with the fashion aspect, with the topics we’re discussing, it just goes hand in hand with pop culture. It’s a part of us, we’re a part of it, it’s kind of an entity at this point. It’s interesting to see how that kind of seamlessly happens. It’s really hard to pick just one thing because the show–it’s an amalgamation of so many things and it’s difficult to say ‘This is the thing that defines us for pop culture.’ I feel like it’s just a mixture of all of it. It’s the topics that we talk about. It’s the relevance, and the fact that we take on taboo topics that fit into today’s culture as well as the fashion and the music for pop culture.

What was the most difficult scene to film in season 1?
It would have to have been in episode nine when Anika gets kicked out of the house. That was a pretty difficult scene for me. It was a rough morning because it was really, like obscenely cold outside and we’re doing a lot of screaming and it’s very emotional. And it’s TV, so it’s a different kind of medium. You want to make sure that the moments that you’re trying to hit, you’re getting it in the closeups and not the wideshots. So that was a really difficult time, but I was really glad I was working with Terrence in that scene, because he and Taraji are both such great rocks for you when you’re doing a scene off of them. So it was really great to be working with him because he kept saying, ‘I got you. Don’t worry. I got you.’

fox empire cookie anika fight

What was your favorite scene to film in season 1?
Probably the fight scene [laughs]. I love doing stage combat. I was a huge tomboy growing up so when I do anything having to do with stage combat I love it. And when we were doing the move where Anika goes for Cookie but she ends up landing on the pool table, it’s a trick.It’s a really great little flip move where I actually tuck my arm under Taraji’s and use her body to propel me over. And I was so excited about it. They wanted my double to do it and I was like, ‘No, no, I want to do it!’ So we just kept flipping over and over again. It was just a lot of fun.

“Empire” returns to Fox on Sept. 23 at 9/8c.

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