11.14.18

Jussie Smollett Discusses His Role In FOX's "Empire"

Golden Globe-nominated "Empire" continues to be one of the most popular and acclaimed shows on television. A powerful drama about a family dynasty set within the glamorous and sometimes dangerous world of hip-hop music, the show revolves around the Lyons and their media company, Empire Entertainment. Jussie Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon, took to the BUILD stage to chat about the fan favorite FOX series.

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>>> HEY, EVERYONE. WELCOME BACK TO BUILD. I’M YOUR HOST BRITTANY JONES-COOPER. GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATED "EMPIRE” IS A POWERFUL DRAMA ABOUT A FAMILY DYNASTY SET WITHIN THE GLAMOROUS AND SOMETIMES DANGEROUS WORLD OF HIP HOP MUSIC. TODAY I'LL BE JOINED BY ACTOR JUSSIE SMOLLETT WHO PLAYS JAMAL LYON, THEIR MIDDLE SON WHOSE A TALENTED MUSICIAN TAKING LIFE ON ITS OWN TERMS.

>> MA, COME ON, WHAT PART OF PLEASE LEAVE MY ARTIST ALONE DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND.

>> IF WE DON'T SIGN HER, SOMEBODY ELSE WILL.

>> I ALREADY DID. WINTER IS MINE.

>> SO WHAT IS YOUR IS YOUR.

>> GOT ME, BUT I FEEL LIKE YOU COULD HAVE COME TO ME OUT OF RESPECT INSTEAD OF BEHIND YOUR BACK.

>> I'M RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE IN YOUR KITCHEN. WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?

>> I'M TIRED OF BEING CALLED BOY. I'M A GROWN MAN WITH A HOME AND A LABEL AND A LIFE. AND A FIANCE.

>> SO YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT DOING THINGS BEHIND PEOPLE'S BACK, I DIDN'T KNOW THAT HAPPENED BEHIND MY BACK.

>> YOU COULD JUSSIE SAY CON -- SAY CONGRATULATIONS. MOM, REALLY?

>> YOU'RE A PAIN IN MY ASS, THAT'S WHAT YOU ARE.

>> PUT YOUR HANDS TOGETHER FOR JUSSIE. I MEAN TARAJI IS SO, I LOVE HER SO MUCH.

>> SHE'S EVERYTHING.

>> YOU GET TO DO A LOT OF SCENES WITH HER. AND NOW SEASON FIVE.

>> THAT IS MY SISTER. I HAVE TO SAY SISTER BECAUSE I CAN'T SAY MAMA BECAUSE SHE GETS MAD, I AIN'T OLD ENOUGH TO BE YOUR MAMA. BUT YEAH, I LOVE HER WITH ALL MY HEART. SHE IS A COMPLETELY WONDERFUL PERSON BUT ALSO A REALLY -- AMAZING SCENE PARTNER.

>> AND I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE SHOW, SEASON FIVE. LIKE WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED, COULD YOU IMAGINE THAT YOU WOULD MAKE THIS FAR AND TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT?

>> THAT RIGHT THERE, TALKING ABOUT THE STUFF THAT I CARE TO TALK ABOUT, THAT IS THE BIGGEST BLESSING OF ALL OF THIS. I'M SMILING SO HARD THIS SEASON BECAUSE I HAVEN'T BEEN THIS PROUD OF THE WORK THAT WE'RE DOING SINCE SEASON ONE. ALWAYS PROUD OF THE WORK THAT WE'RE DOING, BUT IN THIS WAY, NO. NOT SINCE SEASON ONE. AND I FEEL LIKE I COULDN'T HAVE IMAGINED AND I TRY NOT TO IMAGINE WHAT THINGS -- HOW THINGS ARE GOING TO TURN OUT AND I'VE BEEN IN THIS BUSINESS SO LONG THAT I NEVER WANT TO ASSUME THAT SOMETHING WOULD RESONATE WITH PEOPLE, YOU KNOW WHAT I'M SAYING. BECAUSE YOU JUSSIE DON'T KNOW. YOU GO OUT THERE, YOU DO THE BEST WORK THAT YOU CAN AND YOU HOPE THAT IT RESONATES WITH EVERYBODY THE WAY THAT IT HAS WITH YOU. BUT YOU DON'T KNOW. I'VE DONE THINGS WHERE PEOPLE WERE LIKE NAH AND OTHER THINGS THAT PEOPLE WERE LIKE WHAT? SO YOU NEVER KNOW. BUT THIS IS BEYOND MY WILDEST DREAMS.

>> IT HAS BEEN SUCH -- EVERY SEASON THE CHARACTER HAS TRANSFORMED. WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHANGE DO YOU THINK?

>> PROBABLY THIS SEASON. I THINK THAT AS WE GET OLDER, WE START TO SET CERTAIN BOUNDARIES, NOT JUST WITH OUR FAMILIES, BUT EVEN WITH OURSELVES. YOU KNOW WHAT I'M SAYING? I THINK IF YOU REALLY GO BACK TO SEASON ONE, JAMAL HAD LIKE NO BOUNDARIES FOR OTHER PEOPLE. BUT NOW HE'S BEEN AWAY FOR TWO YEARS IN LONDON. HE LOST ONE OF HIS CLOSEST FRIENDS. SO JAMAL CAME BACK A MAN. HE LEFT A MAN, BUT HE CAME BACK A GROWN ASS MAN. YOU KNOW WHAT I'M SAYING? SO EVEN DOWN WITH COOKIE IN -- IF YOU LOOK AT SEASON TWO WHEN WE STARTED TO KIND OF HATE JAMAL FOR A QUICK SECOND, YOU'RE LIKE UH-HUH, SURE DID. WHEN HIS IDEA OF SETTING BOUNDARIES WAS BEING DISRESPECTFUL TO HIS MAMA, YOU CAN'T DO THAT. YOU KNOW WHAT I'M SAYING? NOW IT IS A THING OF YOU CAN SET CERTAIN BOUNDARIES, BUT YOU MUST ALWAYS KNOW THAT IS YOUR MAMA, SHE WILL STILL SLAP YOU UP SIDE YOUR HEAD. SO IT IS -- I'M HAPPY WITH WHERE HE IS GOING WITH THE WHOLE STORY LINE OF GETTING ENGAGED AND LATER ON GETTING MARRIED. AND HIS FIANCE BEING HIV POSITIVE AND HIM BEING ON PrEP. SO MANY THINGS THAT WE ARE ABLE TO TALK ABOUT. I KNOW AS A FACT IF I WAS PLAYING ANOTHER CHARACTER I WOULDN'T HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO DO. SO I'M VERY, VERY BLESSED.

>> AND YOU SAID HE CAME BACK A MAN. HE CAME BACK IN LOVE AND I THINK THAT COMPLETELY CHANGED WHO HE WAS.

>> JAMAL THOUGHT HE WAS IN LOVE A COUPLE DIFFERENT TIMES. LIKE GABY'S CHARACTER BECKY, LAST WEEK'S EPISODE SHE IS LIKE JAMAL USED TO BE LOKY-HOKEY, BUT WE ALL DO THAT. GO THROUGH DIFFERENT EXPERIENCES, DIFFERENT SITUATIONS, DIFFERENT MEN, DIFFERENT WOMEN. THAT MAYBE ARE NOT THE RIGHT ONES. AND WHEN YOU FIND THAT RIGHT ONE, IT'S LIKE ALL RIGHT, NOW I CAN SINK MY TEETH INTO THIS.

>> AND I LOVE THEM TOGETHER. IT IS MATURE, COMMUNICATIVE, RESPONSIBLE, THEY TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER. AND I THINK IN SO MANY DIFFERENT SHOWS YOU SEE GAY RELATIONSHIPS ARE LIKE OVERLY DRAMATIC FOR NO REASON. AND THIS IS JUST REAL LOVE BETWEEN TWO MEN.

>> I LOVE THAT YOU GOT THAT BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT A GAY MAN. THAT MEANS THAT WE'RE DOING IT RIGHT. BUT IT WAS TIME. AND IT WAS -- I FOUND MYSELF VERY FRUSTRATED TO BE HONEST WITH YOU OVER THE LAST SEASONS WITH JAMAL'S LOVE LIFE. BUT THERE WERE YEARS WHERE I FOUND MYSELF FRUSTRATED WITH MY OWN DAMN LOVE LIFE. SO WE GO THROUGH THAT AND WE COME OUT AND HOPEFULLY DO THE RIGHT THING. HOPEFULLY WE FIND THE RIGHT PERSON FOR US. AND I THINK THAT WE FOUND THE RIGHT CHARACTER FOR JAMAL TO TRULY BE IN LOVE WITH. AND WE ALSO FOUND THE RIGHT ACTOR THAT WAS FEARLESS WHO LITERALLY IS SO PHENOMENAL AS KYE AND IS BALLS TO THE WALL. AND IT IS NICE TO ACT WITH THAT.

>> AND IN ONE OF THE RECENT EPISODES WHERE HE GOES I'M A GAY BLACK MAN AND IT TOOK ME A LONG TIME TO SAY THAT. AND YOU COULD SEE IT IN HIS EYES, LIKE HE REALLY CARED ABOUT THIS CHARACTER.

>> YEAH. AND HE IS A GOOD DUDE IN REAL LIFE. HE HAS BECOME A REALLY GOOD FRIEND. AND THE WAY THAT THE STORY LINE IS GOING, I'M SO HAPPY.

>> AND I READ THAT YOU HAD TO KIND OF FIGHT TO HAVE THE STORY LINE TO HAVE HIS BOYFRIEND BE HIV POSITIVE. SO WHAT WAS THAT JOURNEY LIKE FOR YOU? BECAUSE IT DOESN'T SOUND LIKE IT WAS EASY.

>> NO, BUT IT WASN'T -- I DIDN'T HAVE TO FIGHT THIS TIME AROUND. YOU KNOW WHAT I'M SAYING? I'VE HAD TO FIGHT IN THE PAST. BUT THEN LOOKING BACK, I'M SO GLAD THAT IT DIDN'T HAPPEN BECAUSE IT WASN'T THE RIGHT TIME. JAMAL'S LIFE WAS ALL UP EVERYWHERE. SO WHAT CHARACTER WOULD WE POSSIBLY HAVE BROUGHT IN THAT WAS LOVEABLE, THAT WAS CERTAIN AND WAS DEFINITELY WITH JAMAL FOR NO -- WITH NO ULTERIOR MOTIVES. WE COULDN'T HAVE PRESENT THAT HAD STORY LINE WITH SOMEONE LIKE WARREN. HE WAS TRASH. AMAZING ACTOR, BUT NOT THE CHARACTERS. AND BEFORE THAT, THE CHARACTERS, LIKE THEY WEREN'T THE ONE. SO YOU JUST HAVE TO KEEP PUSHING IT, PROBABLY TO THE ANNOYANCE OF THE PRODUCERS AND WRITERS. BUT MY MISSION, ONE OF MY MISSIONS IN LIFE, IS TO NORMALIZE WHAT IT IS TO BE US. YOU KNOW WHAT I'M SAYING? WE'RE NOT SOME MONKEY IN A ZOO THAT YOU JUST AND BE LIKE LOOK HOW THE GAY BLACKS MOVE. NO, WE'RE HUMAN BEINGS, WE LOVE, WE HATE, WE CRY, WE LAUGH JUST LIKE ANYBODY ELSE. SO TO BRING IN SOME STORY LINE AND BRING A HUMAN FACE TO IT IS ACTUALLY REALLY DOPE. AND THEN GOING FURTHER TO MY ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THINGS ABOUT TELLING THIS STORY IS SEEING COOKIE'S JOURNEY. BECAUSE ALL THE TIME WE SEE -- WE HAVE SEEN THE INFECTED. WE'VE SEEN THE AFFECTED IN THE RELATIONSHIP. BUT WE HAVEN'T SEEN IN A BROADER WAY HOW IT AFFECTS THE FAMILY AROUND YOU. HOW A MOTHER WILL REACT TO IT. IN THE SENSE THAT SHE SAID SO MANY IGNORANT THINGS, BUT IT WASN'T BECAUSE SHE WAS EVIL. IT IS ABOUT RECOGNIZING THE ROOT OF PEOPLE'S INTENTIONS. SHE WAS MISINFORMED.

>> AND YOU COULD SEE IN HER EYES, SHE IS LIKE GET OVER HERE, AND THAT WAS I CAN IMAGINE SO MANY MOTHERS THAT I KNOW OR AUNTS OR GRANDMOTHERS THAT I KNOW WHO AT FIRST WANT TO PROTECT THEIR LOVED ONES AND DON'T FULLY EDUCATE THEMSELVES. SO HOW IMPORTANT WAS TO PUT THE EDUCATE IN THE EPISODE, HAVING COOKIE ON THIS JOURNEY WHERE SHE IS RESEARCHING?

>> IT WAS SO IMPORTANT. AND I EVEN BROUGHT ONE OF MY MENTORS, I THINK PHIL MIGHT BE IN THE BACK, BUT HE IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE BLACK AIDS INSTITUTE. AND I'M ON THE BOARD THERE. I'VE BEEN WORKING WITH THE INSTITUTE SINCE I WAS 15. AND HE SPOKE TO THE WRITER, HE MADE SURE THAT CERTAIN THINGS WERE REAL, CERTAIN STATISTICS WERE REAL. WE HAVE BEEN PLACED IN A VERY SPECIAL POSITION TO BE ABLE TO EDUCATE AND ENTERTAIN AT THE SAME TIME. AND JAMAL, I GOT LIKE A GROUP OF COMMUNITIES ON MY SHOULDERS PLAYING THIS CHARACTER. SO YOU CAN'T IGNORE THE THINGS THAT ARE AFFECTING US. YOU KNOW WHAT I'M SAYING?

>> I THINK BEYOND COOKIE'S JOURNEY I THINK LUCIUS --

>> RIGHT!?!

>> YEAH, LUCIUS WITH THE GROWTH. BECAUSE YOU REMEMBER IN SEASON TWO, AND I KNOW SOME PEOPLE DIDN'T WATCH SEASON TWO --

>> IT IS STILL AVAILABLE ON HULU.

>> BUT IF YOU WATCHED SEASON TWO, SEASON TWO RIGHT BEFORE JAMAL GETS SHOT, LUCIUS SAYS YOU ARE A DISAPPOINTMENT AND THE DAY THAT YOU DIE OF AIDS IS THE DAY THAT I'M GOING TO CELEBRATE. AND I REMEMBER BEING IN OUR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER'S OFFICE, BECAUSE THIS SCENE AND IT WAS A SEASON TWO LEVEL SCENE. BUT WE WERE LIKE THIS IS NOT REAL. AND I REMEMBER -- NO DISRESPECT TO OUR WRITERS, BUT WE SAT THERE AND WE LITERALLY REWROTE THAT SCENE. AND WE WERE SAYING TO EACH OTHER WHAT IS THE WORST THING THAT FATHER OR ANY PARENT COULD TELL THEIR CHILD PARTICULARLY THEIR GAY CHILD THAT THEY HAVE HAD A PROBLEM WITH. AND TERRENCE SAID THIS AND I WAS LIKE -- THAT HURT ME TO MY CORE. AND THAT IS IT. SO FOR HIM TO SAY THAT AND THEN YEARS LATER SEASONS LATER WE SEE THAT HE IS ACTUALLY THE ONE THAT HAS JAMAL'S BACK IS PRETTY INCREDIBLE. YOU KNOW WHAT I'M SAYING? IT IS DOPE.

>> AND NOT ONLY HIS HAS BACK, BUT ALSO IS SORT OF LIKE HE'S GOT IT. HE TRUSTS HIS SON. AND WE KNOW THAT THEY DIDN'T REALLY GET ALONG BEFORE.

>> AND YOU ALSO KNOW IT TOOK TIME TO GET HERE. IT IS NOT SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS OVERNIGHT. YOU DON'T SNAP YOUR FINGER AND ALL OF SOMEONE'S IGNORANCE IS POOF GONE. BUT I THINK THAT AGAIN AS I GET OLDER, I TRY MY BEST TO RECOGNIZE THE ROOT OF PEOPLE'S INTENTIONS. AND IT HELPED ME WHEN MY FATHER PASSED TO HELP UNDERSTAND HIM MORE, TO UNDERSTAND WHAT HIS FEAR AND IGNORANCE WAS. AND SO PEOPLE THAT WANT TO LEARN, PEOPLE THAT WANT TO INFORM THEMSELVES AND NOT STAY IGNORANT, THAT IS WHERE WE GOT TO GO.

>> AND YOU TALK ABOUT STAYING IGNORANT. I READ A RECENT ARTICLE IN NY TIMES WHERE YOU WANT THESE STORIES TO BE MAYBE STORIES BECAUSE YOU STILL KNOW PEOPLE LOSING THEIR LIVES TO AIDS BECAUSE OF MAYBE MISINFORMATION.

>> BECAUSE OF STIGMA, BECAUSE OF DENIAL, AND THEN SO STIGMA LEADS TO DENIAL. DENIAL LEADS TO NOT BEING HONEST. AND DISHONESTY LEADS TO SHAME AND HIDING, WHICH THEN IS THE REASON WHY PEOPLE ARE NOT GOING TO GET TESTED BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT TO KNOW. THE REASON WHY PEOPLE ARE NOT GOING ON TREATMENT BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT TO KNOW. THERE ARE PEOPLE THAT -- PHIL WILSON MADE A GREAT POINT, WE DID DR. OZ THIS MORNING AND HE SAID THAT PEOPLE ARE GETTING -- ARE FINDING OUT THAT THEY HAVE FULL BLOWN AIDS WITHOUT EVER FINDING OUT THAT THEY HAD THE VIRUS BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT GETTING TESTED AND NOT GETTING ON TREATMENT. SO YOU ARE GETTING SICK AND I PROMISE YOU IN 2018, 2019, WE DON'T HAVE TO STILL BE GETTING SICK. WE DON'T IF WE DO THE WORK, IF WE EDUCATE OURSELVES. THIS IS NOT A GAY ISSUE OR A BLACK ISSUE. THIS IS SOMETHING PEOPLE LIKE TO PUT IT INTO BOXES. BUT THEN PEOPLE WHO FEEL LIKE THEY AREN'T AFFECTED DON'T PAY ATTENTION AND THEY END UP DYING. AND IT IS LIKE WE'RE DOING -- I DON'T KNOW. I FEEL LIKE IT IS TOO FAR ALONG IN THE GAME TO STILL BE BURYING PEOPLE DUE TO THIS.

>> I AGREE COMPLETELY. SNAP, SNAP, SNAP. FOR YOU AS A GAY MAN, DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE IMPACT YOU'RE HAVING? DO YOU REMEMBER SEEING ANY GAY MEN ON TV GROWING UP OR DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE ROLE YOU'RE PLAYING AND THE IMPORTANCE IT HAS IN OUR CULTURE?

>> THANK YOU. BUT I REMEMBER THE FIRST CHARACTER THAT I EVER SAW THAT REMOTELY RESEMBLED ME WAS WILSON CRUZ IN MY SO CALLED LIFE. BUT BEFORE THAT, NO. I LOVE ELTON JOHN AS A MUSICIAN. BUT I DIDN'T LOOK AT ELTON JOHN AND BE LIKE YES, I CAN IDENTIFY WITH THAT. I'M SURE THAT HIS STORY IS BEAUTIFUL, BUT IT MIGHT BE A LITTLE DIFFERENT THAN MINE. GEORGE MICHAEL, LOVE GEORGE MICHAEL, BUT THERE WASN'T ANYBODY FOR ME TO -- I KNOW AS A FACT AND I SAY THIS WITH ALL THE HUMILITY IN MY HEART THAT WHEN I WAS GROWING UP IF I HAD A JAMAL LYON TO LOOK AT, I KNOW MY UNDERSTANDING WOULD HAVE BEEN MUCH DIFFERENT AND WOULD HAVE HAPPENED MUCH SOONER THAN IT DID. SO I TRY MY BEST TO DO WHAT I DO AND FILL A VOID -- FILL THE VOID BECAUSE THERE IS A VOID. I DON'T DO IT FOR THE CREDIT. IT IS FOR THE ART AND FOR LIKE THE LITTLE KIDS THAT ARE OUT THERE BEING MISREPRESENTED. THERE IS NOT A DAY THAT I DON'T GO ON TWITTER AND BE LIKE TOLD DIE BLACK FAG OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. NOT A DAY THAT GOES BY. AND IT STILL HITS ME. BUT I'M STRONG AND I'M COMPLETELY GROUNDED IN WHO I AM. LIKE I'M LIKE OKAY, IT HITS ME AND THEN I'M LIKE OKAY, MUTING YOU, NOT EVEN GOING TO BLOCK YOU BECAUSE I DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT YOU WERE THAT IMPORTANCE. YOU'LL JUSSIE -- JUST BE MUTED. BUT IT STILL BOTHERS ME. SO IF IT BOTHERS ME A GROWN ASS MAN IN MY 30s WHO IS FIRMLY ROOTED WHO MAKES HIS OWN MONEY, DOES HIS OWN THING, FAMILY LOVES HIM, GOT A BOO, ALL GOOD, BUT WHAT DOES IT DO TO THE 8-YEAR-OLD LITTLE BOY THAT IS CALLED A BLACK FAG IN SCHOOL, FOR THE LITTLE GIRL THAT IS CALLED A DIKE OR WHATEVER MIGHT BE CALLED AT 12 OR 13. SO IF IT IS AFFECTING ME, IT IS DAMN SURE AFFECTING THEM AND THAT IS WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO. ANYTHING ELSE IS GRAVY.

>> AND THE SHOW HAS BEEN A SPRING BOARD FOR YOUR MUSIC TOO. SO WHERE ARE WE AT WITH THAT? YOU RELEASED YOUR ALBUM THIS YEAR AND THE PROCEEDS WENT TO THE BLACK AIDS INSTITUTE. SO YOU CAN MIX ART WITH YOUR ACTIVISM.

>> IT'S DOPE. I RELEASED MY DEBUT ALBUM A COUPLE MONTHS AGO. I WENT ON A TOUR. WE WENT TO FOUR CONTINENTS, SEVEN COUNTRIES AND 40 DIFFERENT CITIES. AND I DONATED EVERY SINGLE CENT OF THE PROCEEDS OF THE TICKET SALES TO CHARITY. SO WE WERE ABLE TO DONATE WELL OVER $125,000 TO CHARITY. AND THAT IS BECAUSE PEOPLE SHOWED UP AND SHOWED OUT. SO I'M DEFINITELY -- I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING EXCEPT THAT. AGAIN LIKE I DON'T TALK ABOUT IT, LIKE I DON'T POST ABOUT IT, I DON'T SAY AHEAD OF TIME LIKE OH, AND TICKET SALES WILL GO TO XYZ. IT WENT TO EIGHT DIFFERENT CHARITIES ACTUALLY. IT WAS SEVEN ACTUALLY. AND I'M BLESSED TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT. IT WASN'T FOR ANYTHING EXCEPT TO DO IT. LIKE THAT IS MY TITHE. SOME PEOPLE GO TO CHURCH AND IT IS BEAUTIFUL. I GO TO CHURCH TOO, BUT MY TITHE IS GIVING TO THE PEOPLE. THAT IS JUST WHAT WE DO.

>> AND ACTIVISM IS PART OF YOUR WHOLE FAMILY. THAT IS IN YOU AND THAT IS WHY IT FEELS SO GENUINE AND AUTHENTIC.

>> YEAH, MY MOM GREW UP AND HER MAIN MENTOR WHO IS LIKE ONE OF MY GODMOTHERS IS ANGELA DAVIS. SO WE GREW UP IN THESE -- IN THIS FAMILY WHERE IT WAS LIKE NAH, YOU AIN'T GOT NO CHOICE BUT TO DO SOMETHING FOR OTHER PEOPLE.

>> I LIKE TO THINK THAT THAT ACTIVISM IS MORE AND MORE INGRAINED IN PEOPLE. I SEE IT A LITTLE MORE AND MORE AND I'M HOPING IT IS NOT A RARITY.

>> NO, WE ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF A RENAISSANCE. AS PEOPLE OF COLOR, WE DON'T WANT TO BE THE ONLY ONES SITTING AT THE TABLE. WE WANT TO SHARE WITH OUR SISTERS AND OUR BROTHERS. YOU SEE ALL THESE SO-CALLED MINORITIES, WHATEVER THAT MEANS, YOU KNOW WHAT I'M SAYING, WHICH I ALWAYS SAY WE AS THE SO-CALLED DISENFRANCHISED OR THE MARGINALIZED, WHETHER DUE TO OUR RACE, CULTURE, GENDER, SEXUALITY, RELIGION, SO-CALLED DISABILITY, WHATEVER THAT MAY BE, IF WE ALL JOIN TOGETHER WHICH I'M STARTING TO SEE, IF WE ALL JOIN TOGETHER, WE WOULD BE A MAJORITY THAT IS UNSTOPPABLE. BECAUSE YOU AT THE END OF THE DAY, WHO IS THE MAJORITY? A BUNCH OF OLD WHITE DUDES WHO SAID YOU'RE FROM AUSTRIA, YOU'RE FROM ENGLAND, YOU'RE FROM IRELAND, LET'S CALL OURSELVES WHITES. BUT IF YOU BREAK THAT DOWN AND YOU SEPARATE THEM, AIN'T NOBODY THE MAJORITY. THAT IS WHAT WE NEED MORE OF, MORE LOVE.

>> I AGREE. LET'S GO TO THE AUDIENCE BECAUSE I KNOW WE HAVE A COUPLE QUESTIONS FOR YOU. WHO DO WE HAVE FIRST?

>> HEY, DO YOU FEEL LIKE IN SOME WAYS YOUR PERSONAL LIFE IS PARALLEL TO THE LIFE OF JAMAL?

>> NO. I THINK A LOT OF Y'ALL THINK THAT. BUT NO. OUR HEARTS ARE THE SAME, YOU KNOW WHAT I'M SAYING? I THINK THAT JAMAL WAS A CHARACTER WITH ONE SCRIPT BEFORE I BECAME HIM. SO I DO THINK THAT IS SOME OF WHO WE ALL ARE. OBVIOUSLY FOR INSTANCE TARAJI BROUGHT HER WHOLE SELF TO COOKIE, BUT SHE'S NOT COOKIE. IT IS A PIECE OF WHO SHE IS. JAMAL IS A PIECE OF WHO I AM, BUT HE IS NOT ME. I'VE HAD TO WORK FOR EVERY SINGLE THING THAT I HAVE AND JAMAL, SORRY, YOU WAS BORN INTO SOME MONEY SITUATION. YOU WASN'T RICH ALWAYS. BUT YOUR DADDY IS LUCIUS LYON. MY DADDY WORKED IN THE MANHOLES AND WORKED EVERY DAY, GOT UP AT 4:00 IN THE MORNING AND WORKED EVERY DAY, THE DRIVE AND THE WORK ETHIC THAT I HAVE, I LEARNED FROM MY PARENTS. BECAUSE WE DIDN'T HAVE ANYTHING. IT IS FUNNY NOW BECAUSE NOW I SEE LIKE DEFINITELY PEOPLE SEE MY LIFE AND THERE ARE CERTAIN THINGS THAT ARE TAKEN -- THE RELATIONSHIPS AND ALL OF THIS TYPE OF STUFF ARE TAKEN -- I'VE BEEN WITH MY DUDE FOR TWO YEARS, YOU KNOW WHAT I'M SAYING. BUT THERE ARE CERTAIN PARALLELS, BUT WE ARE CERTAINLY NOT THE SAME. CERTAINLY NOT THE SAME.

>> NEXT QUESTION.

>> HI, IS THERE ANOTHER MESSAGE OR STORY LINE THAT YOU ARE LOOKING TO BRING TO THE SHOW?

>> THAT IS A REALLY GOOD QUESTION. YES. YES. THAT IS ALL I WILL SAY BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO SAY OUT LOUD AND THEY DID END UP YOU SAID IT, NOW WE CAN'T DO IT. FOR INSTANCE THE HIV STORY LINE, I NEVER REALLY TALKED ABOUT HOW BADLY I WANTED TO DO THAT ONE. I WOULD TALK ABOUT OTHER THINGS LIKE I WANT JANET JACKSON ON THE SHOW. BUT THAT IS DOABLE AND THAT IS NOT SOMETHING THAT I HAVE TO LIKE WATCH OUT FOR FOR THEM TO BE LIKE NOW WE CAN'T SAY IT. SO, YES, YEAH -- WELL, I CAN SAY THIS. I REALLY THINK THAT -- I'LL LEAVE IT AT THAT. YES.

>> I'M LIKE COME ON, COME ON. YOU MENTIONED JANET. YOU GUYS HAVE HAD EVERYBODY UNDER THE SUN, BUT ARE THERE ANY ARTISTS THAT YOU REALLY WANT TO SEE ON THE SHOW? MARIO IS KILLING IT RIGHT NOW.

>> MARIO IS KILLING IT RIGHT NOW. BUT MARIO, THE REASON WHY I LOVE HIM BEING ON IS THAT MARIO IS OBVIOUSLY AN INCREDIBLE VOCALIST, BUT HE IS ALSO AN ACTOR. HE HAS A REAL STORY LINE. HE IS NOT COMING ON JUST AS MARIO. HE IS KILLING IT WITH THE MUSIC, BUT HE IS ALSO A REAL ACTOR. SO THAT IS WHY HE WAS BROUGHT ON. I WOULD LOVE OBVIOUSLY FOR JANET JACKSON TO COME OR. AND I'D LOVE FOR USHER OR MAXWELL TO COME ON. IF MAXWELL CAME ON, LIKE YEAH. I WANT THAT DUET, MAN. THAT IS ALL. BUT WITH THAT SAID, I STAY AWAY FROM TALKING TOO MUCH NOW ABOUT THE GUEST STARS BECAUSE WHEN WE FIRST STARTED, WE WERE THE LITTLE TRAIN THAT COULD. AND NOBODY WAS CHECKING FOR US. AND THEN WHEN WE BECAME A HIT, EVERYBODY'S MANAGERS WERE CALLING. IT IS LIKE THROWING A PARTY WHERE YOU AIN'T GOT NO FRIENDS AND AIN'T NOBODY COMING AND THEN THEY START REALIZING THAT YOUR PARTY'S POPPING AND EVERYBODY COMES AND YOU'RE LIKE MY DAMN HOUSE CAN'T HOLD THEM ALL. AND THAT IS WHAT HAPPENED IN SEASON TWO. LUDACRIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN ON THE SHOW, BUT WE DIDN'T WANT TO GET WRAPPED UP AND THE SECOND THAT WE -- THE TIMES THAT WE HAVE FAILED THE FANS AND FAILED THE VIEWERS AND FAILED ME AS A FAN OF THE SHOW IS WHEN WE GET AWAY FROM THE FAMILY, IS WHEN WE GET AWAY FROM THE HEART OF THE SHOW. IT IS A MUSICAL SHOW. IT IS A SHOW ABOUT CELEBRITY, IT IS A SHOW ABOUT POP CULTURE. BUT THAT IS THE BACKDROP. THE SHOW IS ABOUT A FAMILY TRYING TO MAKE IT WORK AND -- AND THE SECOND THAT WE GOT BACK TO THAT, THAT IS WHEN WE WENT, PERIOD. BUT JANET JACKSON, MAXWELL AND USHER CAN STILL COME ON THE SHOW ANYTIME.

>> LAST QUESTION.

>> MY QUESTION IS HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT FOR YOU TO DIRECT LAST WEEK'S EPISODE AND HOW HAVE YOU IMPROVED FROM YOUR FIRST DIRECTING DEBUT TO NOW.

>> I LOVE ANDRE. IT WAS ALWAYS IMPORTANT, TO ME IT IS ALWAYS IMPORTANT TO PLANT SEEDS AND NOT DO ONE THING. I CAN EASILY GET CREATIVE BLUE BALLS WHERE I'M LIKE SORRY, THIS IS --

>> NO, THAT WAS ACTUALLY REALLY RELATABLE. I GET IT.

>> I FEEL LIKE YOU ALL UNDERSTAND WHAT I'M SAYING. WHERE I'M GRATEFUL, I'M HAPPY, I'M EXCITED, BUT I'M NO LONGER BEING FED BECAUSE I'M DO POSITION THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER. SO YOU GOT TO SHAKE IT UP SOMETIMES. AND ALSO PLANTING SEEDS, "EMPIRE'S" NOT GOING TO BE HERE FOREVER. SO I CAN'T BE LIKE I'M GOING TO SING \M\M LIKE NO, I GOT TO DO MORE. I HAVE TO FEED MY CREATIVE SOUL OR ELSE IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE. BUT THAT IS WHY I'VE DIRECTED ALL OF MY MUSIC VIDEOS FOR MY ALBUM. WE WENT EVERYWHERE FROM L.A. TO MIAMI TO SOUTH AFRICA TO DO THE VIDEO FOR "HER PEOPLE.” THIS WILL BE THE FIRST VIDEO THAT I'M NOT DOING -- WE'RE ABOUT TO DO THE VIDEO FOR HA-HA I LOVE YOU, AND MARIO VAN PEOPLE IS GOING TO DIRECT IT. BUT YEAH, DIRECTING IS IMPORTANT TO ME BECAUSE BEING ABLE TO CREATE IN EVERY SINGLE WAY POSSIBLE, THAT'S WHAT WE'RE SUPPOSED TO DO.

>> AND SO YOU ARE MULTITALENTED. IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL. I LOVE TALKING TO YOU AND I LOVE YOUR ACTIVISM AND ACTING AND SINGING. MAKE SURE YOU WATCH HIM ON "EMPIRE.” 8/7c THURSDAYS ON FOX --

>> DID YOU SAY THURSDAY? IT IS WEDNESDAY.

>> WEDNESDAY! WEDNESDAY! WEDNESDAY! WEDNESDAY ON FOX.

>> DON'T BE SHOWING UP ON THURSDAY, THIS AIN'T LONDON. BUT IF YOU ARE IN THE UK, WE ARE ON THURSDAYS.

>> LET'S TRY THAT AGAIN, 8:00, 7:00 CENTRAL WEDNESDAYS ON FOX. GIVE IT UP FOR JUSSIE.

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"Unbreakable" + "Split" = "Glass" which makes us 🤩! Don't miss Spencer Treat Clark share his experience about getting back on-set with Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and go-kart racing with James McAvoy. (Photo Credit: Mike Pont /BUILD )

Jonas Åkerlund & Mads Mikkelsen

Mads Mikkelsen and director Jonas Åkerlund make one hell of a team and the evidence is "Polar." Hear all about the (freezing 🥶) blast they had filming the new Netflix Original movie. (Photo Credit: Jammi York /BUILD )

Jameer Pond, Shannon Coffey & Kevan Kenney

Check out what our host Kevan, cultural commentator Jameer and comedian/BUILD Brunch host Shannon had to say about #NewMusicFriday in what was a great and hilarious first Weekend Listen of 2019. (Photo Credit: Mike Pont /BUILD )

Steve Zahn, Bradley Whitford, Matthew Carnahan, Stephan Paternot & Lamorne Morris

You ever wonder how the internet came to be? 🤔 Well, here's your chance to find out! Watch our convo with the folks behind Nat Geo's limited series, "Valley of the Boom. (Photo Credit: JP Yim /BUILD )

Haley Joel Osment

The second season of Hulu's "Future Man" is upon us! Find out what Haley Joel Osment likes about working on the comedy and what other projects you can catch him in later this year. (Photo Credit: Jammi York /BUILD )

Megan Boone

From working with the prolific James Spader to sliding into DMs and being more eco-friendly, we had a great time chatting with "The Blacklist" star Megan Boone. (Photo Credit: Mike Pont /BUILD )

Manuel Rulfo-Garcia & Manolo Caro

Vea nuestra entrevista con director Manolo Caro y actor Manuel Garcia-Rulfo sobre su nueva película,"Perfectos Desconocidos." ¡Estarás feliz de haberlo hecho! (Photo Credit: Jammi York /BUILD )

Jenna Coleman

She just gives regal vibes! Jenna Coleman, who plays Queen Victoria on PBS' "Victoria," sat down to talk with us about the acclaimed series. Tune in! (Photo Credit: Jammi York /BUILD )

Alice Eve

If only there were two of Alice Eve, but we'll gladly take the one! 🥰  The "Replicas" star gave us the details of what it was like shooting the film, working with Keanu Reeves and more. (Photo Credit: BUILD /BUILD )

Terry Crews

To know him is to love him! The always motivational and wise Terry Crews stopped by to talk the new season of  "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and his gig as host of "AGT: The Champions." (Photo Credit: Mike Pont /BUILD )

Catriona Gray

That smile though! 😊 Catriona Gray, aka Miss Universe, Philippines 2018, told us how much she appreciates all her supporters and what fuels her as a person and advocate. (Photo Credit: Mike Pont /BUILD )

Josh Dallas

🗣 We're back and we're calling all Manifesters! Hear what about the "Manifest" script drew actor Josh Dallas to the NBC series. (Photo Credit: Mike Pont /BUILD )

Allison Williams

We were lucky enough to kick off the new year with none other than the lovely Allison Williams! Find out what she enjoyed about joining "A Series of Unfortunate Events". (Photo Credit: Mike Pont /BUILD )

Lyrica Okano

We ended our 2018 on a high note with Lyrica Okano! The star of the Hulu original, Marvel's "Runaways," shared what it's like working for the renowned comic behemoth. (Photo Credit: Mike Pont /BUILD )

Paris Hilton

Now that's 🔥! The one and only Paris Hilton stopped by the studio to chat about her time working on the Netflix documentary, "The American Meme," and more.  (Photo Credit: Mike Pont /BUILD )

Willem Dafoe

Genuinely one of our favorite guests, it's always a pleasure to have the great Willem Dafoe. Watch our discussion about his Vincent Van Gogh portrayal in the film, "At Eternity's Gate." (Photo Credit: Noam Galai /BUILD )

Robert Zemeckis

Robert Zemeckis is the man behind every film we've come to know and love! Hear what he had to say about creating the new unique drama, "Welcome to Marwen." (Photo Credit: Mike Pont /BUILD )

Amy Adams & Steve Carell

It's not every day that we have actors of such magnitude like Amy Adams and Steve Carell! You cannot miss our conversation with the stars of the Golden Globe-nominated film, "Vice."

(Photo Credit: Noam Galai /BUILD )

Cody Simpson

Cody Simpson has made his Broadway debut on the amazing "Anastasia," and we couldn't be happier! Find out what the actor/singer has been enjoying most about the musical. (Photo Credit: Noam Galai /BUILD )

Hailee Steinfeld

She sure can take a photo! 😍 We were ecstatic to talk to the lovely Hailee Steinfeld about her role in the new Transformers film, "Bumblebee," and more! (Photo Credit: Noam Galai /BUILD )

Colson Baker (Machine Gun Kelly), Rosa Salazar, Danielle Macdonald, Lil Rel Howrey & Susanne Bier

Your Netflix list is going to get a bit longer because you're going to want to see "Bird Box!" The film's cast and director shared some of the funniest moments on-set. (Photo Credit: Mike Pont /BUILD )

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