Loretha “Cookie” Lyon is a main character on the FOX series, Empire. She is the ex-wife of Lucious Lyon as well as the mother of Andre, Jamal, and Hakeem Lyon. She is the co-founder ofEmpire Entertainment, and after she was released from jail returned to take her half of the company.
Cookie is portrayed by actress, Taraji P. Henson.
Before the success of Empire Entertainment, Cookie Lyon, was a drug dealer. With the help of $400,000 in drug profits, Cookie and Lucious collude to bolster his music career. During this time, Cookie and Lucious have three children, a young but eldest Andre, Jamal, and newborn Hakeem. Cookie strives to ensure that her children would get the best out of everything and she is a talented music producer and astute business woman. She has a great ear for the sound and music of the hip generation. Her relationship with Lucious also consisted of Cookie assisting whatever Lucious has done with his music and helping him build Empire Entertainment. Cookie has been involved in drug dealing gone bad, forcing her to serve 17 years in prison.
Cookie is released from jail after 17 years, when released, she arrives surprisingly at her son, Jamal’s apartment for shelter. Meanwhile, after reuniting with Jamal, she plots to attain her half of Empire Enterprises. Her ex-husband, Lucious, denies this request, although Cookie helped build the label with $400,000. She wants half of the company, $5 million per year, and to be the head of A&R. Meanwhile, Cookie attempts to rekindle relationships with her sons, most specifically Hakeem, who doesn’t trust or care for her presence, although his disrespect towards her forces Cookie to hit him with a broom. Cookie requests, meanwhile, to take full management rights of Jamal and his career, although Jamal is uncertain of coming out as a gay artist to the world.
When Jamal decides to change his mind, agreeing to allow Cookie to manage him, she is enthusiastic and determined to plot revenge or develop anger in Lucious for Jamal’s possible success in the music industry. She wants Jamal to run Empire Entertainment, as implied.
Cookie arrives uninvited to Lucious’s house, insisting that Jamal should perform at Laviticus with Hakeem, believing that it would be a major collaboration. Despite Lucious’s constant denies, due to his sexuality, Cookie is determined to get Jamal to perform and bolster his career. Meanwhile, Cookie has a probationary assistant, Porsha, who arrives with her to Jamal’s apartment. Later on, Cookie arrives at Empire Entertainment, confronting a troublesome artist, Kidd Fo-Fo, for his music. She continues to convince Lucious to launch Hakeem and Jamal’s career at Laviticus, but it fails. Cookie wants Jamal, at first, to steal the spotlight from Hakeem, but she convinces Jamal to perform Tell The Truth, forming a press release to showcase his coming out.
However, Cookie is devastated after discovering that her long-time cousin and friend, Bunkie is dead. After creating a failed attempt of a press release for Jamal, with the help of Rhonda, Jamal refuses to attend, and Cookie enters an elevator with Lucious, Anika, Kidd Fo-Fo, Becky, and Vernon, which gradually leads to an altercation. Cookie feels mistreated by Lucious, while she shows disappointment in Jamal after he stood her up. After Jamal performs with Hakeem at Laviticus, Cookie departs and enters a car with a federal agency convincing her to testify for a person involved in her case, but she fears her life may be in jeopardy.
Cookie asks Lucious about Bunkie’s funeral plans, but she is pushed aside. Meanwhile, Cookie is spied on, forcing Lucious to confront Cookie about her involvement with the federal agency, and accuse Cookie of jeopardizing the family’s history. Unaware of who told Lucious about her relationship with the feds, she questions her sister, Carol, at Bunkie’s funeral. Meanwhile, Cookie attempts to search for a songwriter for Jamal, who only believes in writing his own music. With the help of Harlow Carter, an agent involved in Cookie’s case, Cookie discovers that Anika is responsible for the spies, and she tracks down an old friend, Puma, to write a song for Jamal.
When she reunites with Puma, who seems to have shelved romantic feelings for her, has changed his life around by working on a farm. Although he has lost interest in his songwriting, Puma decides to give a song to Jamal that Cookie is familiar with. Cookie urges Jamal to perform Up All Night, a song Lucious refused to perform in the past, at Lucious’s dinner party. Later on, the dinner party becomes tense when Cookie indirectly confronts Anika for spying on her, but she shows disgust towards Lucious’s sardonic behavior towards Jamal’s performance of Up All Night, telling him that he will go to hell. She threatens Anika, telling her to watch her back, but she discovers that Lucious may have a secret that she’s unaware of.
Cookie demands an office for Empire Entertainment and rights for her assistant, Porscha. However, when she moves into a smaller office, she is asked by Tiana to give advice on a demo. Eventually, Cookie, much to Anika’s disapproval, has full management of Tiana’s music career. After Tiana and Hakeem is able to perform at the Teen Choice Awards nominations at Laviticus, Cookie texts Tiana, requesting that she sings her demo with Hakeem, who doesn’t seem too fond of building a relationship with his mother. Meanwhile, Cookie helps Lucious bring an imprisoned rapper, Titan, join Empire Entertainment by posing as a Muslim and interacting with his mother, revealing that she is part of the Nation.
Meanwhile, Cookie opens up about her abandoned relationship with Lucious, revealing that Lucious had stopped visiting her in jail and refused to interact with her. Cookie, meanwhile, shares a dinner with Tiana, but the two both realize that Hakeem is nowhere to be found to prepare for their performance. Later on, Cookie attempts to reconcile with Hakeem, but fails to seek forgiveness. Lucious, at the end, thanks Cookie for helping Titan join Empire, and increasing Tiana and Hakeem’s success.
In this episode, Cookie sends Jamal to a studio to record a song, Keep Your Money, and steps outside to talk to the FBI, being convinced by agent Harlow Carter to testify in front of a grand jury, but refuses to because it may put her life in danger. However, Carter convinces Cookie to testify against Frank Gathers, a man involved in a violent shooting that Cookie witnessed. When Cookie is in court, she reveals the situation at hand, a man that is shot was part of a federal agency. Cookie confronts Carter for lying to her, and it puts her even in deeper danger than before.
Cookie arrives to her apartment only to discover a rose on her doorstep – the rose serves a symbol shown in Frank Gathers’s drug dealing logo. Cookie feels immediately in danger, assuming that Gathers sent the rose and someone will kill her. Andre arrives to ask Cookie to allow Tiana to collaborate with Hakeem on his music video, but Cookie denies it despite Andre’s urge to contribute to money since promotion money is limited due to the IPO. Cookie convinces Andre to allow her to join a board of directors or she will refuse to include Tiana to the music video.
Jamal becomes worried of Cookie’s long absence, but on the phone, Cookie tells Jamal to fix his song, remove the intro. Cookie goes into a taxi to Philadelphia, where her sister Carol lives. She goes to open up about Frank Gathers and reveals that an accomplice may have been involved in sending Cookie the rose, leading to a decision to reunite with a friend of hers to prevent Frank Gathers from interfering with her. However, Cookie juggles Empire Entertainment business regarding Jamal’s song and Tiana’s scandal.
Meanwhile, Cookie confides in Jermel to stop the roses from being sent to her house. Cookie returns back to Ghetto Ass Studios in celebration of Jamal completing his song. At the end, Cookie discovers that Lucious sent her the rose, as a symbol of their anniversary, and she is too late to get Jermel to stop him from handling Teddy McNally.
Assuming that Lucious still has feelings for her, after sending the rose, Cookie dresses to impress for a night out that she did not expect. Cookie is enraged when Lucious reveals that he is engaged to Anika, feeling as if she was being lead on. Meanwhile, Cookie is proud of Jamal’s incoming musical success, but she warns his boyfriend, Michael, who fears that fame will affect their relationship, and states that Jamal will have less time for Michael. Cookie, who requests that Elle Dallas should remain in Empire Entertainment, agrees to manage her. However, the hope backfires when Elle refuses to be managed by her.
Cookie attempts to help Elle through her drug and alcohol addiction, but Elle is resistant. Cookie reflects on her troubled past and how Elle influenced her. Meanwhile, Cookie achieves in promoting Jamal’s single, Keep Your Money, to bolster his popularity, by convincing a popular celebrity to tweet about his song. Later on, Cookie urges Elle to perform her music in a raw manner, and to stop hiding her emotions in materialistic features, and she is shown supporting Jamal during his interview with Sway Calloway.
Meanwhile, Cookie meets Malcolm DeVeaux, a man working for Lucious. Cookie notices the obvious tension and competition between Jamal and Hakeem, but is shown completely bewildered by a mysterious presence that claims that Jamal is the father to her child.
Cookie continues to confront Lucious for forcing Jamal to marry Olivia, but she witnesses Lucious suffer from the side effects of the medicine used to cure his ALS. Cookie becomes concerned of his heath after visiting him in the hospital; meanwhile, Cookie tries to search for Elle in order to prepare for a performance to launch Empire’s success, and when she arrives, she is amazed by her performance. However, things go unfortunately awry when Elle looks like she is repeating her drug habits because Anika drugged her, forcing Cookie to remove her slot from the show, and apologize to Lucious for trusting her.
After Lucious suffers from the symptoms of ALS, it is deemed impossible form him to go on and deliver a speech, so he insists Cookie should deliver the speech towards Empire. Cookie acknowledges Lucious’s success and dreams, revealing their past before Empire Entertainment, and Empire’s artists. Cookie urges Lucious to tell him of his problems, but when discovering that he has ALS, she is silent and distraught. At the end, Cookie opens up, believing that Lucious will breakthrough his illness. Cookie and Lucious share a sexual encounter together afterwards.
After Cookie and Lucious sleep together, Cookie believes their relationship will go further if Lucious breaks up with Anika, and she convinces Lucious to create a Legacy album and tour for the family. Cookie, being the producer of the legacy album, Records Hakeem rapping on a new version of Lucious’s song “Your So Beautiful”. Cookie critiques Hakeem and he throws a fit towards her. Lucious yells at the both of them, forcing them to try and get along. Hakeem tells Cookie why he is always mad at her because he thinks that she forgot about him and that she loves jamal more than she loves him when she was serving time in jail ; Cookie tells him that that’s not true and she loves him just as much as Jamal.
At the white party Cookie meets Hakeem’s love interest, Camilla. Cookie tells Hakeem that he shouldn’t be dating women her age. Hakeem disregards what she says ; and Cookie tells Camilla to stay away from Hakeem. then she told Jamal to sing the song without Lucious and Hakeem.
Cookie is an extremely beautiful and extremely outspoken and some time immature and very wise and no-nonsense individual who is extremely loyal and supporting to those she loves. She alway demands her respect including from her children. She will do whatever it take to claimed what is right fully hers and be on top no matter what. She is also a strong, independent, woman who never takes no nonsese even off the people such as Lucious and Anika. And she always takes matter into her own hands and knows how to rule and run a company . She is also very smart and mature and creative and does not fear anybody. She is never afraid to speak her mind toward people. Cookie can also be head strong, sassy and tough. she can be very motherly as well. and she also can be very funny sometimes.
Lucious Lyon (ex-husband)
Lucious and Cookie were a married couple. Before they were rich, they illegally hustled drugs and committed various other crimes. She supported his music career, and often helped in the production of his songs. Together, they had three children: Andre, Jamal, and Hakeem. She was the one who provided the $400,000 in drug money that had started Empire. She was eventually nabbed on federal drug charges and was sentenced to 30 years, although she offered less than 5 years if she turned on Lucious, a deal she refused, claiming that she wasn’t about to let Lucious spend the best years of his life rotting in jail. While in prison, she often thought of Lucious and sang his songs while imprisoned in her cell. During that time Lucious stopped visiting her in jail and divorced her.