Written by | Ray Cornelius

The ATL premiere of Lee Daniels’ new hip-hop drama, “EMPIRE” was held last night at the Fernbank Museum. The event was hosted by FOX & Liquid Soul and featured a VIP screening in one of the IMAX theaters as well as drinks and delicious desserts.

As previously reported, “EMPIRE”  follows a family-run-hip-hop dynasty governed by Lucious Lyons (Terrence Howard) who is attempting to take his record company, Empire Entertainment public. His plans come to screeching halt when his ex-wife, Cookie Lyons (Taraji P. Henson) emerges from prison for drug trafficking and an all-out family war ensues.  Lyons must groom one of his three sons Andre, the shrewd music executive; Jamal, the gay singer-songwriter; and Hakeem, the headstrong rapper, to take control of the business before Cookie does. Actors Trai Byers, Jussie Smollett and Bryshere Y. Gray portray the Lyons’ sons respectively.

BJ Sydney and Doc

BJ and Sydney Mitchell with Dr. Rondrick Williamson

Rounding out the all-star cast is Malik Yoba as Lyons’ business associate Vernon Turner, Gabourey Sidibe as Lyons’ hardworking assistant, Becky and Grace Gealey stars as Lyons head of A&R and current girlfriend.  Music legend Gladys Knight will also appear on the show and Timbaland serves as the show’s music producer.

Liquid Soul CEO Terrell Whitley revealed that Rob Hardy, formerly of Rain Forest Films. was currently working on the 10th episode in Chicago which features musical divas Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Hudson. Modeling icon, Naomi Campbell will also appear in the episode and will reportedly play Camilla, an alluring woman involved in a steamy affair with Hakeem that also exercises considerable influence over him.

Crowd shot

Crowd anxiously awaiting the premiere

Atlanta notables attending the screening included General Manager of Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Erica Qualls; Area Development Director for United Negro College Fund, Miranda Mack McKenzie; “Instant Mom” star BJ Mitchell, “The Doctors” star Dr. Rondrick Williamson; Former “Big Rich Atlanta” stars Sabrina and Kahdijiha Rowe; Media mavens, April Love, Keisha Hines and Satchel Jester; actress and singer, Jasmine Burke; Chairman of CIO Entertainment, Ted McCloud; Lexis Jones Mason from “I Dream of NeNe” and Straight From the A’s Michelle Brown.

Check out more photos below and the latest trailer:

Victor Jackson

Dance Choreographer and reality star Victor Jackson

Erica Qualls

General Mgr. of Atlanta Marriott Marquis Erica Qualls with her niece

Miranda with Nick

Liquid Soul’s CMO Nick Nelson with UNCF’s Miranda Mack McKenzie

BJ and Sydney Mitchell Jasmine Burke

Instant Mom’s BJ Mitchell with his sister Sydney/Actress and singer Jasmine Burke

Sabrina Rowe and April Love

Sabrina Rowe with April Love

Ted and Brian William Leechan

Brian Ingram with  Ted McCloud/ Lee Daniels’ cousin William Leecan

Terrell Whitley

Liquid Soul CEO Terrell Whitley talking to audience about “EMPIRE”

Reporter Photo Dr. Rodrick Williamson

Fox 5 Atlanta’s Cynne Simpson/”The Doctors” star Dr. Rondrick Williamson


“EMPIRE” social media winners

Michelle and Lexus

Lexis Jones Mason with Michelle Brown

Director of Entertainment

LaRonda Sutton, Director, Mayor’s Office of Film & Entertainment, City of Atlanta

Group Shot

Sabrina and Kahdijiha Rowe with Keisha Hines and Meghan Moorer

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“EMPIRE” premieres Jan. 7 at 9 p.m. EST on FOX

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com