The FOX show “Empire” has shaken up prime-time television on Wednesday nights, says Cleveland.com.
It’s a successful musical drama television series centered on family members competing at all lengths to gain control of Empire Enterprises, a family-owned record label company.
“Empire” provides a genuine glimpse into what it’s like behind the scenes of the music and entertainment industry.
But according to Cleveland.com, maybe the characters are almost too real.
Cleveland.com asked Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert if he checks out the show and if he thought that he bears a striking resemblance to the character Hakeem (played by Brysherer Gray), the rap artist. Hakeem is the youngest son of the CEO of Empire.
Hakeem has the mannerisms, the look, and the sound of Shumpert, according to Clevelan.com. He even has a similar high-top fade haircut.
Shumpert told Northeast Ohio Media Group he doesn’t watch the show.
What he would reveal next caught Cleveland.com completely off guard.
In the series, Hakeem has a girlfriend named “Tiana” (played by Seraya McNeill), who’s an R&B singer and dancer signed to the record company.
Ironically, the fictional character “Tiana” has a strangely similar persona to Teyana Taylor, a real-life R&B singer, dancer and actress.
Aside from having the same name and likeness as Taylor, the fictional character, Tiana, has an identical hairstyle. Teyana Taylor is widely known for her signature appearance. It’s hard not to see the similarities.
Shumpert is dating Teyana Taylor, and Hakeem is dating Tiana in the show. They’re a real-life couple and believe “Empire” is hijacking their character without permission or compensation.
“They’re using my girl’s character, her style, her look and she’s not getting anything for it,” Shumpert said. “They didn’t even change her name. They could have at least let my girl audition for the part instead of stealing her character completely.
“And come on man, they’re really using a guy with a flat top like me. Come on. That’s ridiculous,” says Shumpert.
“They never called us. We were blindsided. We found out by our family and fans when the show aired.”