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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fox's Empire and What it is Truly About

Fox's Empire and What it is Truly About 
by Brittney S. Harris

As an actress of over 10 years, I have watched television's perception of entertainment change tremendously over the years. Concepts and story lines have become more gritty and less glamorized. There has and always will be a stigma over shows with a predominately African-American cast. These "black shows" are held against several different standards each having its on category of regular television versus "black television". Do these show accurately portray the African-American experience? Let's take for example FOX's hottest new TV drama Empire. Which, according to its ever chart topping ratings, is one of the hottest shows to hit the market in a while. Notice I said 'show'…not "black show". But there is much scrutiny behind the show's storyline, characters, and overall representation of black people.  Let me just say for the record,  I absolutely adore this show. Not only am I completely engrossed in the plot and storylines, I am invested in the world of these characters. People forget that TV is not always meant to be an accurate representation of "real life". It is for entertainment value. Point blank.

I was posed with a question that spoke about Empire's intent of promoting more lead black characters on prime time television or does it prove harmful stereotypes towards black people. I laughed. I laughed long and hard because the thing is… your perception of what black people are "really" like will always be YOUR perception. Many people have come down on this show claiming that is not an accurate portrayal of the music industry. Many people have claimed that this show is not an accurate portrayal of African-Americans and entrepreneurship. I could go on and on and I only say one thing: when is ANYTHING we view on TV an accurate portrayal  of anything at all?! Let's take the show for what it is: entertainment. It is a compelling FICTIONAL story that has interesting characters dealing with the bouts of an upcoming music empire. 

BOOM! That's it. Stop reading more into it. Is it promoting more black leads to prime time television? Yes it is and good! There should be more diversity on television.  By diversity, I mean race, type, sexual orientation, etc. What's wrong with that? The show is good in the sense that it is something that has not been seen before. I mean people are comparing it to Starz' Power. Personally, I have not seen Power but hey, the more the merrier. As an African-American actress, I find shows like Empire and Power to be stepping stones for me in the entertainment business. No longer is it all about the skinny, fair skinned, long haired actresses-- we are starting to see more characters who look and act like regular people in… extraordinary ENTERTAINING circumstances.   

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