Queen Latifah Leads Cast of Newcomers in ‘Empire’ Spinoff

8 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Queen Latifah Lands Lead Role in Lee Daniels’ Fox Music Pilot.

The untitled Fox pilot is about three young women trying to make it in the music industry. Queen Latifah, fresh off a featured spot as the title character in NBC’s The Wiz Live!, has been cast in the lead role of Empire co-creator Lee Daniels’ new music pilot for Fox.

Queen Latifah has scored the leading role in the Empire co-creator’s newest series that follows a trio of young women with big music dreams who form a group, Fox announced on Monday. After open auditions, three newcomers were cast as the aspiring singers: Jude Demorest and Ryan Destiny, both from Detroit, Michigan, and Brittany O’Grady from Washington, DC. Queen Latifah will play Carlotta, the owner of an Atlanta beauty salon who boasts an amazing voice and becomes a surrogate mother to the three girls — even though she doesn’t approve of their musical aspirations. The Untitled Lee Daniels Music Pilot goes into production this month in Atlanta, and while the potential series has only been ordered to pilot at this point, Queen Latifah’s star power, combined with Daniels’ “Empire” track record at Fox, makes the project a strong contender for the 2016-17 television season. Musician-actress Latifah starred in NBC’s live production of The Wiz last week and played the famed blues singer Bessie Smith in the Emmy-winning HBO movie, Bessie.

Another Detroit resident, Ryan Destiny, was tapped for the role of Alexandra, a rich 20-year-old from the Upper East Side of New York City who yearns to make authentic music and leave her wealthy upbringing in the past. Demorest will play Star, the tough 18-year-old who spent her childhood in and out of foster homes after her mother’s death and who will do whatever it takes to become a true star. The project has been described in the vein of “Dreamgirls,” while incorporating the manufacturing of modern-day girl groups, showcasing the allure and heartache of the cut-throat music scene, and exploring cultural themes from a new perspective. The pilot, created, written and directed by Daniels, is the first project to emerge from the Oscar nominee’s overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television. The network is not yet revealing details about the role, though the casting search announcement back in October described one character as “a half African-American and half Latina transgender woman with a stunning look.” The pilot deal was announced back in August.

O’Grady rounds out the group as Simone, Star’s younger sister who dreams of the day Star will come back to rescue her from the abusive foster home in which she was placed five years before. In addition to the lead trio, TMZ reports that transgender model Amiyah Scott — who was in contention to be a “Real Housewives of Atlanta” cast member — has also joined the project, though the site incorrectly reported the pilot is an “Empire” spinoff. However, while not officially in development, Daniels has discussed the possibility of a separate “Empire” spinoff, and has thrown around the idea of a show revolving around young Cookie’s life, following the early days of the character made famous by Taraji P.

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