Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!
“They didn’t coin this phrase for nothing,” Empire star Grace Gealey, who plays Lucious’ ex-fiancee Anika, told Us Weekly about her character’s mission in the season 1 finale.
Anika, formerly the head of A&R at Empire Entertainment and engaged to CEO Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), is spiraling out of control heading into the Fox musical drama’s two-hour finale, which airs March 18 at 8 p.m. ET. Also known as Boo Boo Kitty and “fake-ass Lena Horne,” Anika lost both her job and her fiancé after Lucious’ ex-wife, Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), was released from prison and headed back to New York City to reclaim her life.
That means Anika lost everything, and she wants payback. “She’s desperate; she’s hurt; she’s angry; she wants revenge,” Gealey told Us ahead of the episode. “She’s so strong as a person that she’s going to fight back. She’s going to do exactly what she said she was going to in episode 8 when she was like, ‘Listen, you eff with me, I’m gonna take this whole empire down.’ So she’s definitely going to try.”
While Anika was hesitant to do devious things to get what she wanted before — “I think when you met her in the beginning, there was a certain level of elegance. There was poise and even class that she had in the beginning when she was like, ‘No, I’m not going to stoop to that level,'” Gealey said — now that she’s been burned, she’ll try anything. Including drugging an addict — and even more awful deeds to come in the finale.
“She’s been called a bitch by Cookie five million times,” Gealey told Us. “She’s had to really stand her ground for a very long time. She’s done. She’s tired. And instead of bursting through doors and pushing people around like maybe Cookie might, she’s doing what she feels like is the best in this situation — which is not the best.”
Gealey continued, “When you look at the basics of it, we’ve all done things that we’re not proud of. We’ve all done things in situations where we were very desperate and we wanted to win in the end. We’re fallible people.” But, of course, Empire is a soap opera, so everything that happens is heightened.
The willingness to push boundaries is one of the reasons audiences connected with Empire, Gealey pointed out. “They’re shocked at what it is that we talk about; they’re shocked in the way that we talk about them; there are no holds barred when it comes to, like, the Cookie character or what anybody else will do or say. We don’t hold back. Now that most people are caught up — you have Andre flipping out, and that brings attention to bipolar disorder, you have Lucious dropping to the floor with his ALS — it’s really, really intense topics that we’re talking about. We’re not shying away from the conversation to be had.”
Something’s working, since Empire‘s ratings have been on an upward trajectory since its Jan. 7 debut, increasing for eight weeks in a row and and reaching 14.7 million total viewers in its penultimate outing. The show’s soundtrack even debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart, beating Madonna’s Rebel Heart in its first week of release.
Gealey said she thinks the finale won’t disappoint the growing audience. “[Anika’s] not backing down. She’s going to come through and really pull some stunts in the finale to get her bearings, and whether or not they work, I don’t know,” she said with a laugh. “All I know is you’re not going to be able to watch the finale without screaming at the TV. You’re just not. If anyone watches the finale and sits down the entire time, then chances are they’ve passed out.”
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