Taraji P. Henson, as Cookie Lyon, and Terrence Howard, as Lucious Lyon, in Empire

Empire has proved to be an envelope pusher in network television. With bold storylines that include homophobia and mental health, the show doesn’t skip a beat in addressing poignant issues in the black community.

But one actor says the show is not authentic enough in the language it uses. Terrence Howard, who plays Lucious Lyon, feels that to become even more genuine, Empire needs to cut out some of the political correctness regarding the n-word.


In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the actor gave a defense of using the n-word.

“If we start getting silly, if we start playing to people’s fancies, then we don’t deserve to be where we are,” Howard said. “It’s a big pressure because I want to be a truth sayer. I want to raise the bar. I want to get rid of this f—ked-up word called PC. I think it’s a gate for bigotry because as long as you’re politically correct, you can say anything you want but feel some way different.

 “I’m mad that we don’t say 'n—ger' in the show,” he continued. “Why is TV showing something different from the reality of the world? Why is there a thing called censorship that stop people from hearing everyday talk? We use n—ger every day. It’s become part of a conversation—why aren’t we using it in the show?”


Not everyone agrees with Howard. The dissenters include David Rambo, a writer and co-executive producer on the show. In an interview with TMZ, Rambo said that a white writer has no business deciding whether the n-word should be used. Lee Daniels also seems to think the word has no place on the show. Last year Daniels said the word would not be used on the show because of its negativity.

Joining in against using the n-word on the show is Taraji P. Henson, who plays Cookie Lyon. TMZ caught up with the actress over the weekend, and she echoed Daniels’ sentiments.


“No, you would piss people off,” Henson said when a reporter asked her whether the word should be used to make Empire more authentic.

It’s interesting that everyone but Howard is against using the n-word, which probably says a lot about him more than anything else. Why must the n-word be used for authenticity? Not every black person uses the word or condones the use of it, no matter how many times it’s used in hip-hop. 

I could go without hearing the n-word for the rest of my life and I’d be fine. Just as I’m quite sure Empire will be fine without ever using it.