Empire is no Tyler Perry drama, but Lee Daniels’s cult hit is a musical masterpiece with plenty of drama and smack-talking to keep us entertained. The series is one of FOX’s biggest shows right now and, with a colorful cast of characters and toe-tapping original music, we can see why! Seriously, go to iTunes or Spotify right now and listen to the music.
Of course, our hearts lie with one of the best main characters in the series, Cookie Lyon. Taraji P. Henson, who plays the fierce woman, won a Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe Award for said role. Now, keep reading to see the 10 times Cookie Lyons was a boss on Empire and why Henson deserved all those best actress awards.
Warning: The following contains spoilers and some of Cookie’s quotes are NSFW, so scroll with caution!
Boo Boo Kitty Catfight
One of the best moments on Empire is unfortunately not one of the classiest: the time Cookie and Anika (aka Boo Boo Kitty, Cookie’s nickname for her) came to physical blows. Cookie, Anika, Hakeem, and Andre meet to come up with a plan to go against Lucious. A lot of shade is thrown between the two women, but Cookie finally loses her cool and an all-out, hair-pulling, gut-punching, pearl-necklace-snatching brawl ensues. Anika put up a good fight, but Cookie came out on top, literally.
Dressed to Kill
Lucious is a womanizer, but the one woman he can’t seem to get away from is Cookie. Although he is engaged to Anika in Season One, he and Cookie sleep together, and she is under the impression that he wants things to go back the way they were. When Lucious invites her to dinner, she dresses to kill in some lingerie and a big fur coat but is surprised when she turns up and it’s a family event (including Anika). Being the confident woman that she is, Cookie owned her outfit and walked away with flair!
Mama Bear Takes No Prisoners
Other than getting what is hers (aka Empire Entertainment), Cookie’s other priority is making sure her boys are okay. When she finds out that her youngest, Hakeem, is seeing an older woman, she is understandably upset and she doesn’t try to hide her distaste for Camilla. Things come to a head at the White Party when Camilla tries to get the final performance spot for Hakeem, and Cookie throws some great lines about Camilla being Yoko Ono, a cougar b*tch, and how she would have loved to see her deal with the other ladies in prison. This takedown was savage!
Family First, Even With Man Candy
Along the same lines, Cookie isn’t afraid of standing up against the men she’s sleeping with if they try to come at her family. When Laz and Hakeem get into a fight, Cookie strikes back at Laz and screams, “Don’t you ever touch my son!” Once she finds out that her lover is a part of the gang that took her son, she is understandably upset, but she remains stone cold while walking away as Lucious “deals with the problem.”
These are MY Streets
Cookie and Hakeem have a lot of problems when they first start their new record company, Lyon Dynasty. A particularly nasty issue is a local gang threatening them and trying to extort money for “protection.” Hakeem even gets kidnapped as part of their plan and is traumatized by the experience, and he is unable to rap afterward. When Hakeem and Cookie find out where the gang’s base is, they go there to settle things, but she is alarmed when her son whips a gun out. After calming him down, Cookie takes the gun herself and turns the tables on her son’s kidnappers, showing them that she is not a woman to be messed with!
Porsha, Get My Shoe
Cookie and Lucious have a love-hate relationship, and sparks always flare when they are in the same room together. After arguing in the main lobby of Empire, Cookie loses her temper and angrily takes her heel off and throws it at Lucious after he walks away from her. It gets his attention, which is exactly what she wanted, and she maintains her boss status by yelling for her assistant Porsha to pick the shoe up instead of going to get it herself.
Flipping the Switch on Her Enemies
When Cookie first enters the scene, Anika is obviously annoyed by an interloper in her almost perfect life, so she hires investigators to trail Lucious’ ex. Being the smart cookie that she is (get it?), Cookie calls Anika out on it at a family dinner and then does some snooping of her own. Her investigation pays off when she finds out Anika was passing information to Empire’s rival, Creedmoor Records. After sabotaging Anika’s engagement and career all in one day, Cookie ditches the wreckage with a well placed “Bye, Felicia.”
Setting Up Shop for Jamal
When Lucious is being his usual stubborn self, Cookie decides to take Jamal into her own hands and mold him into a great artist. The first step? Finding a home base to make music. The two end up at a recording studio literally called Ghetto Ass Studios, but they can only afford it for a day. Cookie has to leave thanks to Agent Carter, but she subtly threatens the owner to take care of her baby boy by hinting she was packing heat. When asked who she is, her blunt reply, “The name’s Cookie. Ask about me,” had us bowing down.
Cookie, the Lyoness
There have been plenty of references to the Lyons being a pride that needs to protect each of its members, with Lucious and Cookie as the leaders. Despite their mutual backstabbing and attempts to take Empire from each other, the Lyons will always come together when what is theirs is being threatened by outside forces. That’s why one of Cookie’s finest moments was her giving a speech to potential investors as the Lyon matriarch for Empire’s IPO. When her ex was physically unable to speak and lead the family, she took over like a true boss lady would and did it with typical Cookie flair.
Social Champion and Charitable Queen
Season 2 kicked off with a bang, a giant Empire Entertainment concert in support of Lucious, featuring Empire artists and his sons, Hakeem and Jamal. Cookie made an interesting entrance as a gorilla lowered down to the stage in a metal cage. The costume covered up a beautiful feathered dress fit for a queen, but the message this gave to fans was what was most important. Taking her gorilla costume off, Cookie shouts into the microphone, “How much longer are they going to treat us like animals?” She then proceeds to give an amazing speech about the unfair incarceration of African Americans in the U.S., and, in a later episode, treats her fellow prison mates to a special concert with Laura and Hakeem.
As you can see from Cookie’s best moments, she’s a fierce mother, fighter of inequalities, and overall just a boss lady. Empire‘s Season 3 premieres March 30 on FOX, and we’re excited to see what Cookie comes up with this time around.
For more information on Empire, check out the Empire Wiki, home to 254 pages about the hit series.