'Empire' Star Veronika Bozeman Reveals How Truthful The Series Is To The Music Industry
If you were one of the many who tuned in to watch the premiere of Fox's newest drama Empire (and there were quite a few million of you considering Empire is Fox's highest rated show in years), it's hard to deny that the series started with a bang. It opens with Terrence Howard's Lucious coaching one of the musicians on his label, and the scene sets the tone for a show that has all the truth, drama, pain and tension that you'd expect from a Lee Daniels production. But don't think that the musician in said scene is a one-off. That singer is the talented Veronika Bozeman, or V as she's called on her albums.
V had the opportunity to join the series thanks to her collaboration with Empire's music maestro Timbaland, in fact, she's signed with the artist. While working an album with Timbaland, V showed the him her latest body of work called Grace Jones and he fell for it immediately.
"He was so taken aback by it," she tells me. "He said 'I need to show Lee Daniels this. He's doing this series on Fox and I just think that you would fit perfectly in the cast.'" And what was her response to Timbaland, a musician V claims is "one of the most important figures in music of today," giving her such a great opportunity?
"I didn't really think anything of it because you know in this industry, people say things or want to do things that never come to pass," V reveals. "So I was like 'Ok we'll see.'" Clearly, Timbaland made good on his word.
With so many other great musicians on the series, can we expect some collaborations coming up? V says absolutely, citing that she especially wants to work with Jussie Smollett who plays Jamal. "He's such a dear friend to me and we've been talking about doing our song together," she says. "In fact, I was actually talking to the writer of the songs on Empire about this last night because there's a big demand I'm starting to get from the masses that they want to see that."
V also shares that she's dying to work with Terrence Howard again in a more musical capacity, as he is an artist himself and Lucious was a rapper before he became a mogul. V describes her experience working with Howard as the most amazing day.
"Terrence embraced me immediately when I met him," she states. "He just kept saying he loved my energy and just wanted me to make sure that I be myself and be true to the character."
V shares that she related to her character in so many ways because she herself has been through a lot in her life. She grew up in South Central Los Angeles and put pain in her own music. It's what she said got her as far as she's gone today and what she relates to the most in her character Veronica, because in V's words, she's the type of "passionate artist that doesn't care about anything but her career and won't let anyone stop her in her way, it doesn't matter who it is, it could be Lucious or her best friend."
V goes on to say that aside from the music, which is now available on iTunes, the best thing about working on Empire is Lee Daniels and the truth the series brings to its depiction of hip hop and the music industry.
"I knew that Lee Daniels was gonna go there. He's the type of director that he has no filter. He's very passionate and he's very connected to his work and so I knew Empire was going to be a hit... It's very matter of fact when it comes to hip hop, how it influences our culture, and what we need to do to make it better. In the pilot someone says that with the state of the music industry now, artists are getting robbed of their artistry and not getting their proper due respect and payment just to survive. It's just hard. So I'm so glad that we have acknowledged that to the world."
And what about a feminist angle? We won't be seeing just stereotypical scenes of women catfighting and fawning over the men. V says Taraji P. Henson's character won't allow that.
"Cookie is a strong woman, she loves her family. She would do anything for her children. And clearly she did do anything for her children, she went to jail," V says. "[Empire and Cookie] really shows the dedication and loyalty that a woman has, and most importantly the strength of a woman. I mean, she came out of jail ready to fight. And that's what we have to do as women everyday in the industry, fight. Cookie acts like she is on a battlefield every day and that is actually what it's like in real life."
Amen to that.
Images: Chuck Hodes/FOX