Is Hakeem From 'Empire' Based On A Real Person? The Youngest Lyon Is Reminiscent Of These Celebrities

Empire is the winter’s hottest new show, and for good reason. It’s got everything any viewer could want: family strife, great music, attractive people, legal drama, and one of the best wardrobes on television (Cookie is one fly lady, I’ll tell you that). For those of you not in the know, Empire revolves around Lucious Lyon, his family, and his record company, aptly called Empire Entertainment. His ex-wife, Cookie, has just gotten out of prison after 17 years (she took the heat for crimes that Luscious actually committed), and she wants a piece of the company she helped build. Also, Lucious has a new girlfriend, and is pitting his three sons against one another to eventually take over Empire. The youngest of those sons is Hakeem, played on Empire by the hot-and-talented Bryshere Gray. Hollywood being what it is, there’s a ton of speculation on whether or not the Empire characters are based on real people, or more specifically, real celebrities.

Hakeem is easily the most alluring of the series' ensemble, simultaneously cocky with the ladies and public, yet unsure of his place in his father’s eyes. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last May, series creator Lee Daniels said that the characters are based on his own family members, but as I've watched Hakeem's path to fame on Empire, he's reminded me of some real-life musicians. Here are a few celebrities that Hakeem seems to have a few things in common with.

Big Sean


Big Sean’s music is kind of “eh,” which is exactly what Hakeem is going through right now on the show. He’s trying to find the hit with that perfect spark in it, and he’s having a little bit of a tough time with it (especially because his older brother is more talented musically and breathing down his neck). Hakeem, like Big Sean, also has an affinity for dating fellow performers: hello, Ariana Grande.

Chris Brown


Hakeem is a talent, but his impulsive nature continues to get in his way. The incident in which he exposed himself in public and called President Obama a “sell-out” was reminiscent of Brown’s outburst following an appearance on Good Morning America and highly publicized bar fight with Drake.

Tyler, The Creator

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Like Hakeem, Tyler, The Creator is known for his always-cocky attitude and irreverent sense of style. Have you see the clothes that the Lyon boys wear? Some serious color and pattern combinations going on. When Cookie (his mother) first sees Hakeem after getting out of jail, Hakeem is getting his hair trimmed in what looks to be an Odd Future-type set up. Lots of guys around in a big old house with stuff everywhere. Living the dream.

Lil’ Romeo

Leon Bennett/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

What did Master P, Lil' Romeo’s ultra-famous rapper father, want for his son? To be a superstar rapper like himself, but he couldn’t quite make the cut. Similarly, Lucious desperately wants Hakeem to become a celebrity and take over Empire, but he's overshadowed in the talent department by his older brother, and Lucious knows it. If Hakeem can’t make it to the top, will Lucious still love him?

Whether or not he was actually modeled after any of these real-life performers, Hakeem certainly shares similarities with them. We'll just have to see whose career, if any, Hakeem's arc follows.

Image: Chuck Hodes/FOX