What Is Bryshere Gray Doing After 'Empire' Season 1? Hakeem Already Has Side Projects Lined Up
The time has come for Fox's Empire to end — well, its first season, anyway. Empire airs its two-hour Season 1 finale on Wednesday night and luckily, the hit drama will be back for a second season at some point in the future. I guess in the meantime we could all relive the good times with the newly released Empire soundtrack and sing along to "Drip Drop" on repeat until the show comes back. On the other hand, the cast is sure to be busy with their new-found popularity — including breakout Empire star Bryshere Gray, who plays Hakeem Lyon and raps as Yazz the Greatest. He already has a lot of side projects brewing.
The 21-year-old Philly native has gone from YouTube rapper to burgeoning star since Empire's premiere in January. As Yazz the Greatest, Gray wrote rap songs and shot low-budget YouTube videos for them, as well as performing in high school tours and opening for acts like Fabulous and 2 Chainz. And then came a golden opportunity to audition for Empire . "I met my manager Charlie Mack, and he told me about the audition for Hakeem," Gray told AllHipHop. "When he told me about it, I wasn’t focused on acting. I was just focused on performing and letting people hear my music. But I did the audition full-out, and Lee Daniels loved it."
And the rest is history. While music is Gray's first love, he'll be up to that and more during his Empire hiatus.
His Own Album
While the Empire soundtrack is about to beat Madonna for No. 1 on the Billboard charts, Gray is planning to release an album as Yazz the Greatest sometime in the middle of 2015. It'll produced by Empire in-house music producer Timbaland.
"The sound is very new, so many genres of music on there, you’re going to be inspired," Gray told Philly.com. "You’re going to make some babies off of it. Might go to the club with your friends off of it."
YTG Clothing Line
Gray recently started a clothing line named YTG, which he told Jezebel's The Muse stands for "You're the Greatest" (and just so happens to match the initials of his rap pseudonym). He was even lucky enough to get advice about it from his Empire love interest and fashion icon Naomi Campbell, who plays Camilla on the show.
"Naomi inspired me a little bit on the fashion," he told The Muse. "The clothing line is inspirational. We start out with hats and for the women it's the onesies and t-shirts, the 'Drip Drop' t-shirts and stuff like that."
While Gray started out rapping, he's come to enjoy acting. He recently told HelloBeautiful, "I’m an actor at heart."
Plus, he's been learning from the best — he works with established actors like Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson on Empire, and Will Smith is one of his mentors."I love getting advice from Terrence and Taraji. We also hang out off set and she’ll cook for me, Jussie and Gabby," he said. "We’re like a real family."
I can't wait for that family to return for Season 2.
Image: Chuck Hodes/Fox