Cookie hasn’t had a foil on Empire in a minute. (I don’t really count Anika, because they both hate Lucious and it seems like they’re really on the same team here.) So it’s nice to see a new character played by Nia Long plot against Empire’s powerful matriarch. What Giuliana is up to I’m not sure, but it feels like her plan is going to be a doozy. But before I get into that, I'll start with the basics. Who is Giuliana on Empire?
According to Deadline, the character of Giuliana “makes brash moves in the gangster underworld of New York to secure a deal with Empire." Viewers met Giuliana a few episodes back, when she murdered her mobster husband and then came to some kind of understanding with Andre to get Empire Enterprises into business in Las Vegas. (What kind of business, I don't know.) The article goes on to say that she's "sleek, sexy, and cold-blooded" and that she'll be at odds with Cookie while she makes in-roads with Lucious. And like many other guest stars, Giuliana has a "mysterious past." This newcomer sounds seductive, cool, and dangerous — just like Empire.
Nia Long is another great "get" for Empire, because she’s been in scores of movies and television shows over the past few decades. You may recognize her from starring roles in Uncle Buck (the television show), Lifetime's Beaches remake, The Best Man, The Best Man Holiday, House of Lies, Boston Legal, Big Momma’s House, Soul Food, Friday, and Love Jones. Long can play villains and ingénues alike, so I’m looking forward to seeing the intensity that she brings to Empire.
It seems like Giuliana’s late mobster husband had been running the show. After she shoots him dead — and I wouldn’t fault her for this, as he was an abusive jerk — it becomes clear she was the brains of the operation all along. She wants an in with Lucious Lyon, and I don’t think that her intentions are pure; Giuliana was discussing him with another mobster-type guy in a recent episode, and I mostly think that everyone wants Lucious Lyon dead. I don’t blame them.
Giuliana is also gunning for Cookie. In the April 5 episode, Cookie goes to her regular hair appointment to get herself dolled up for an event with Angelo DuBois only to find Giuliana (whom she doesn’t know yet) in her seat. The stylist mentions that Giuliana’s people were very persuasive, meaning that they were packing guns and wouldn’t let her say no. Then Cookie leaves, and Giuliana has this smile on her face that you know means trouble is coming. I'm not sure what Giuliana has against Cookie, because if she, Anika, Cookie could somehow unite to bring down Lucious, it would be like Charlie’s Angels and 9 to 5 put together, and it would be wonderful.
Cookie isn't happy to have Giuliana invading her kingdom. And there have been rumors that Long clashed with some of her Empire costars, as TMZ reported that unnamed "production sources" alleged that the actor was "extremely rude" to the hair, makeup, and wardrobe staff, which angered star Taraji P. Henson. The anonymous sources also alleged that Henson and Long “stopped speaking to each other when they were on set." Long’s representative told TMZ that the story was “complete nonsense” and that the actor was “nothing but a consummate professional treating all members of productions with respect."
Whatever the actors' relationship, Cookie and Giuliana certainly look like they're gearing up for war on Empire.