There has been talk that everyone from Jay Z to Sean “Puffy” Combs’ family to celebrity couple Iman Shumpert/Teyana Taylor have served as inspiration for the hit show Empire. The series co-creator, Danny Strong, revealed the real life experiences of Puff did play a role in the foundation of what would become Empire.
“I was in my car in L.A., and I was driving around, and I heard a news story about Puffy, and I just thought, ‘Hip Hop is so cool. That’s what I should do next, something in Hip Hop.'” said Strong in an interview with KCRW. “I immediately thought of King Lear and The Lion in Winter. That’s how I work. I go to classical archetypes.”
Strong revealed Kanye West’s public persona also spurred him in the creation Empire. He studied the “All Day” rapper before he began writing dialogue for the program.
“To procrastinate and for inspiration, I started watching Kanye West interviews,” Strong stated. “After 45 minutes, I said, ‘Alright, I’m good. I know how to do this.’”