"Empire" is one of the hottest things on TV right now, and Tasha Smith is more than happy to be a part of the phenomenon.
Throughout her successful career, Smith has appeared in films like "Couples Retreat" and starred in shows like "Boston Common," and now you can catch her as Cookie's (Taraji P. Henson) sister Carol Hardaway on the hit Fox series.
The actress -- who will also return to her lead role on "For Better or Worse" this March -- dished to Moviefone about what it's like to work on such a huge TV sensation, what's in store for Cookie and company, and how her character Carol will spice things up for the empire. According to her, we're in for some surprising, "down and dirty" drama.
Moviefone: First of all, how does it feel to be involved in such a massive success like "Empire?" We haven't seen anything like this in a while happen in terms of ratings.
Tasha Smith: It's amazing. It's feels like when LeBron James joined all those guys and Dwyane Wade on the Miami Heat. I feel like I'm on a winning team and I'm just happy that I get to play in the game once in a while.
What do you think it is about this show that has so many people hooked?
It reminds me -- and maybe I'll hate to use this comparison -- but remember when back in the day when "Martin" was what everyone fell in love with? Like everyone was connected, all the characters were crazy. To me, this is like "Martin." We needed this. We needed a cast that people liked, loved, hated. We needed the drama that was going to make people tune in. We needed phenomenal actors that were going to deliver week after week. It's like all of the components are just perfect. It's like a perfectly made machine.
You're working with Lee Daniels on this and John Singleton directed the upcoming episode. What's it like to work with these two talents?
It was like heaven. These guys are brilliant. It's an actors dream. Lee Daniels is so passionate about his art. He is an artist who will put himself on the chopping block to bring truth, reality, and honesty into a scene. It is a dream. Both of them were two people I dreamed of working with and I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity.
What will we see in John Singleton's episode? (Airing Wednesday, February 4th.)
Drama, drama, and more drama. And then I'll say this: If Cookie's got a problem, she knows who to call.
Tell us a little about Cookie's sister Carol, who we caught a glimpse of at Bunkie's funeral. How will she come into this story a little bit more?
I'm still learning. The writers don't really tell us everything and we get surprised when we get the script. But I feel like Carol knows where the bodies are buried and if she needs to bury a few more to have Cookie's back, she will. She's a person who gets down and dirty. She's a wonderful person to play.
Will we be seeing more of their past relationship and can we expect her to dig up some Cookie dirt?
I believe you're gonna start seeing more of that in the second season. We have so many characters and we have to establish their story lines. You'll continue to see glimpses of Carol, but I feel like the second season might get into that a little more.
Is Carol similar to Cookie? How do they differ as sisters?
I think she's worse than Cookie.
She taught Cookie a few things, maybe?
I think she taught Cookie a few things and I think she's a little more dirty. Honestly, I think she's the one to be afraid of. You see Cookie coming, but you don't see Carol coming.
She's got more of a sneak attack then.
She's a sneak attack for real.
Anything else that might surprise us as the season progresses?
I gotta tell you, you're going to get a lot of surprises. You are going to get some major surprises. I just can't give it all away. You've got to stay tuned.
What about Cookie and Lucious? Will they reunite romantically or will we see her in another relationship?
Anything could happen.
How did you get ready for this role? Did you research any music scandals or tragedies and dig into that world a bit?
I am very familiar with the hip hop world. And I'm from Camden, New Jersey and they're from Philly. My character is from Philadelphia, so I got a chance to really talk to a bunch of people who live in Philadelphia and understand that jail and drug-dealing life. I really got some information on how I could keep my character grounded, along with the guidance of the writers and Lee Daniels.
You've worked with so many great people in the past, but what's it like on this set with this particular cast?
I got to tell you, it's fun and it's all about spontaneity. Terrence Howard is one of the most talented actors I've ever got the chance to work with. He's always so invested in every move and every moment. And Taraji is just a tour de force. She's got an electric energy, and both of them are just so beautiful! They're so wonderful to work with. And Jessie Smollett, who plays Jamal, is also amazing. They're all wonderful.
What would be your ultimate dream for your character Carol, if you had your way in the writer's room?
I want Carol to get in that empire and get that money. Carol has gotta get in there, she's suffered long enough!
"Empire" airs Wednesday at 9 PM on Fox.