Hip hop drama Empire has been a monster hit for the Fox network, with guest stars including Jennifer Hudson, Rita Ora and Courtney Love. Now Jussie Smollett, who stars as Cookie Lyon's middle son Jamal on the show, confirms to HELLO! that yes, Mariah Carey will be joining the cast – and that she's a true "diva" of the best kind.
"I said, 'Do you own flats?'. She said, 'Darling, no'," laughs Jessie of his "diva" friend and future Empire co-star Mariah Photo: Getty Images
When Mariah received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last week, her twins Monroe and Moroccan made headlines for their adorable support of their mom – but Empire producer Lee Daniels also made the ceremony even more newsworthy by commenting that the "We Belong Together" singer would be joining the show.
“Usually I'm like, 'That's a stupid rumor, that's not true.’ But that one is true,” the Empire actor told us while attending the HollyRod Foundations 2015 DesignCare Gala in L.A. "No, she has not been on set yet. I've been having conversations with her and Lee and everything though. She's just so dope.”
Handsome Jussie starred in Mariah's recent music video "Infinity", so it won't be the first time he's shared a soundstage with the star. So what has it been like for him to work with one of the bestselling artists in music history? “She's a good human being and a really sweet lady," he says, adding: "Don't get me wrong, she's a diva. I said, 'Do you own flats?' She's like 'Darling, no.' Okay. That's why she has dope calf muscles. She's just phenomenal."
Describing the pop icon as "one of the funniest people I've ever met in my life", he reveals that Mariah's even a diva on the phone. "She'll call from a blocked number and I'll answer the phone, and she'll be like 'Darling, it's Mariah'," Jussie laughs. "She says 'darling' a lot... It's very, actually kind of sexy!"
While we'd love to see Mimi vs. Cookie in the ultimate diva face off, breakout singer-actor Jussie couldn't give away any specifics. ("When you see Lee Daniels you can ask him!" he joked. "I'm not getting fired, not this season!") He did reveal, though, that he has personally been getting some priceless advice from the former American Idol judge.
"She gives good advice about my publishing and my songwriting because everybody knows her as an incredible vocalist but she's a mogul, she's a songwriter," he said. "She's a boss."