WDRB goes behind the scenes with FOX's new hit show Empire

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- FOX's new hit show Empire has found widespread success by mixing an all star cast with hit songs, high fashion and an intricate story line.

But the cast only scratches the surface of what makes this show such a success. Behind the scenes, there are racks and racks of clothes that fill up the wardrobe rooms and costume designer Rita McGhee is in charge of it all.

"They're all my favorite character to dress because it's clothes, it's different characters its different feelings, different moods, different shapes, different colors, styles..." McGhee said of her work on the show.

With music mogul Lucious Lyon, it's all about color and class.

"He's very distinctive in the colors that he wears," McGee said. "It's not just a black suit or a brown suit -- but he does colors...he has ascots because he's grand, and he's lux and he's royalty."

The show's lead fashionista has to be Taraji P. Henson's character, Cookie Lyon.

"It tells a lot of her story," Henson said of her character's fashion. "She's caught in a time warp a bit. She's kinda 17 years behind the curve in fashion sometimes. You know she's trying to find her way."

McGhee said she's confident when she's found the right outfit for Cookie. "I'm like: 'she's rocking it'."

"Oh it's definitely part of the process for the actor," Henson said. "I wouldn't know who cookie was if I didn't know what she liked to wear. That's a huge part of who she is."

"She does all kinds of prints," McGhee said of the character Cookie. "She does fur, she does prints, she does stripes."

The clothes and makeup help actress Katilyn Doubleday channel her manipulative, scheming, sexy, character Rhonda.

"She's just very sexy and I'm not," Doubleday said. "I'm like a dork."

Other characters like Cookie's assistant, Porsha, don't sit in the makeup chair for even a minute.

Director Lee Daniels liked everything about TaRhonda Jones' style, including her hair, her clothes. He decided it was just her.

"Just me, with a different name," Jones said of her character.


Bringing the characters and their style together is lead set designer Joe Bryant. He helped build and create the world of Empire and an army of set designers makes sure there is no detail that hasn't been thought through.

"I was involved in the pilot as well so I've been on this project here in Chicago since the beginning," Bryant said. "We had a staff of about 100 or 110 construction people working on the four different stages we have here

Lucious' office is filled with pictures of him posing with everyone from Oprah to the Dali Lama and the halls of Empire Records are filled with fake rap album covers.

"It's a nice feeling. The press that we're getting and all the good will. It's been amazing to be part of this," Bryant said.

"I just think that people are being thoroughly entertained," Henson said. "I think that people are finding themselves in these characters. There is something for everybody. There is not a subject that we don't address."

You can catch up on Empire Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. on WDRB.

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All rights reserved.