Is Tiana From 'Empire' Based On a Real Person? Her Character Resembles Some R&B Stars

On Fox's Empire, the titular Empire Entertainment company owned and operated by the Lyon family represents a lot of different artists in all kinds of genres: rock diva Elle Dallas (played by Courtney Love), rapper Hakeem Lyon (Bryshere Gray), and R&B singer Tiana Brown (Serayah McNeil). Empire hasn't showcased Tiana in awhile, since it was revealed that the up-and-coming star was secretly dating a woman named India while publicly dating Hakeem (who was also secretly dating a woman named Camilla). But then last week, Lucious and Co. tried to get Tiana to reconsider jumping ship to a rival record company. And though Tiana isn't based on anyone real, she resembles many popular R&B crooners.

Empire shows Tiana singing hooks on Hakeem's tracks, as well as belting her own songs and dancing it up in videos or in concert. Not to mention, her name rhymes with a certain other pop princess who currently has a song out with Paul McCartney and Kanye West (ahem, Rihanna). Even People thought so and speculated as to whether or not Hakeem and Tiana's relationship was based on that of Chris Brown and Rihanna. Gray, however, denied it. "I can see why people say that, but I don't think the storyline really goes there," he said. " If that's the case, every relationship would be Chris Brown and Rihanna or Jay Z and Beyonce."

Still, I can't help but think that Tiana may have been at least partly inspired by some of the hottest female R&B artists of the past few years.


RihannaVEVO on YouTube

Aside from the rhyming names, Rihanna isn't afraid to express herself musically or sexually, much like Tiana, but Rihanna has found way more success. Actually, Tiana and Hakeem's duets reminded me of another duo — Rihanna and Drake. The former Degrassi star reportedly dated the pop singer briefly, but they also made beautiful music together. Check out the flirty video for their song "What's My Name?" above.


Marshay Sprinkle on YouTube

Does anyone else remember Ashanti? No? She was pretty much 2002's hottest R&B singer. The New York native and Ja Rule used to rule the airwaves and I feel so old just talking about this, but hey, they used to be a thing — see the songs "What's Love?" (above), "Always On Time," Mesmerize," "Happy," "Put it on Me," and "Wonderful." Ashanti would coo some hooks and Ja Rule would bust out some rhymes, similar to the way Tiana collaborates with Hakeem.

As for these days, both Ashanti and Ja Rule have started acting — Ashanti guest starred in an episode of Law & Order, while Ja Rule appeared in Scary Movie 3, The Fast and The Furious, and The Cookout. Maybe we'll eventually see Hakeem and Tiana make the jump to acting on Empire.

Image: Chuck Hodes/Fox