'Empire's Cookie Is The Olivia Pope Of Her Show & These 7 Examples Are Totally Proof
Just like Lena Dunham is Hannah Horvath and Bryan Cranston will forever be Walter White, it's hard to imagine anyone but Kerry Washington playing Scandal's Olivia Pope. The Emmy-nominated actress embodies her character so perfectly that picturing someone else in her place just doesn't make sense — yet apparently, that was almost the case. On Friday, Empire 's Taraji P. Henson revealed that she auditioned for Scandal several years back, as one of several actresses who eventually lost the role to Washington. Yes, you heard that right — Cookie Lyon was almost Olivia Pope.
Obviously, the audition for ABC's hit drama occurred way before Henson's own now-iconic TV character, Cookie, was even a possibility in the actress' mind. And clearly, the situation worked out just fine; Washington is fantastic on Scandal, and Henson's amazing, hilarious performance is a key reason for why Empire is such a huge hit. Still, the the near-casting gets one wondering — what would Henson as Olivia Pope have been like? In a way, she's already just like the D.C. fixer, at least where her own character is concerned; here's how Cookie Lyon is the Olivia Pope of Empire:
She's The Boss
On Scandal, Olivia is the one in charge, the person everyone else goes to for advice, approval, or even just acknowledgment. Although the general public may not realize her power, everybody around her knows that she's the one who makes the rules and wins the game.
Empire's Cookie, meanwhile, might not be the person most people see as the music industry's top dog, but her family and friends know that she's totally in charge. Not a decision gets made without her input (whether the others like it or not), and when things go bad, it's Cookie everyone goes to for help and a much-needed "I told you so."
She's The Industry's Best "Fixer"
Speaking of which — just as Olivia fixes scandals for D.C.'s most trouble-prone elite, Cookie fixes songs of Empire's musically-troubled clients. She works most closely with her own sons, but viewers have also seen her swoop in and save other Empire clients from musical disaster, whether by changing their wardrobes, spinning their stories, or just fixing a beat in their songs. Whatever it takes to make Empire look good, Cookie makes it happen.
She Has A Powerful Reputation
Olivia Pope was renowned in D.C. before Scandal even began, with a legacy of political butt-kicking that stretched back years. Cookie, too, strutted into Empire with a strong reputation already built from her years running the business, waiting in jail, and plotting her revenge.
She's Constantly Switching Sides
Scandal's Olivia may go on and on about her "white hat," but her loyalty to the good side is questionable. She's committed major crimes (rigging elections!), has covered for others' actions, and has been known to turn on her former friends if they start associating with people she doesn't love. As for Empire's Cookie, last episode saw her switching from Team Jamal to Team Hakeem, and even before that, she went back and forth between supporting Luscious and the company to wanting nothing more than to see it all burn down.
She's A Huge Feminist
One only needs to watch 10 minutes of a Scandal episode to realize that Olivia Pope is a proud feminist. She stands up for her fellow women, refuses to be judged by her gender, and calls out sexism whenever she sees it. Cookie's feminist beliefs might not be announced through monologues and political speeches, but they're shown in her fight to rule the company and demand for equal treatment by the male board of directors.
She's Stuck In A Romantic Triangle
Although the storyline hasn't been paid much attention lately, a main aspect of Scandal was once the love triangle between Olivia, the President, and Jake. It still exists — she's just too busy dealing with her PTSD and hooking up with strangers to give it much thought. As for Cookie, the woman is torn between Luscious and Malcolm, even though neither option — just like Olivia's men — is particularly great.
She Has The Best One-Liners
True, Olivia's best quotes are often contained in long, descriptive monologues, but she's had her share of great one-liners: "bitch baby," "you do not summon me" and of course, "it's handled." Similarly, Cookie is all about the memorable quotes, whether she's calling Anika "boo boo kitty," telling her competitors to "take a bite," or saying the best one of all: "you want Cookie's nookie? Ditch the bitch." Scandal and Empire are very different shows in plenty of ways, but when it comes to the quotability of their lead character, they couldn't be more alike — or more entertaining.
Images: Kadeen Griffiths/Bustle; ABC (3); FOX (2); Giphy (2)