With only a handful of episodes on air, Fox’s Empire has been one of 2015’s breakout hits. According to Nielsen data, the drama eclipsed Fox’s flagship show, American Idol, with 11.47 million total viewers this week, and was picked up for a second season after two episodes. Actress Taraji P. Henson, who plays the show’s lead actress Cookie Lyon, recently offered a few insights on Empire’s popularity while talking to Vogue.

‘TV became too safe, and it’s hard out there for people who can’t afford to go the movies, can’t afford cable,’ Henson said. ‘People tweeted at me, ‘Thank you for bringing this to network because I can’t afford cable.’

The actress called the brash Cookie Lyon character ‘everywoman’ and described her attitude as ‘ride or die.’ Henson added that she incorporated elements of Foxy Brown, Lil Kim, and her own father into the character who plays alongside Terrence Howard’s Lucious Lyon.

‘Is she influenced by Foxy Brown? Certainly,’ Henson said. ‘That’s where a lot of her style comes from—Salt-N-Pepa, all of that. That era of hip-hop was her heyday, those are the woman she identifies with.’

The full Q&A with Henson can be read at Empire airs Wednesdays on Fox.

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