*The hit FOX TV series “Empire” returns tonight at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT with Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) an outsider after being betrayed by his partner Mimi Whiteman (Marisa Tomei). Whiteman caused him to lose control of the music empire he had worked so hard to build.
In the new season there’s a new face – reporter Harper Scott (Annie Ilonzeh), who is determined to find out all she can about Lucious. What makes his clock go tick tock? She’s not scared to go deep in the Lyon’s den to get her exclusive story about Lucious.
Ilonzeh says while Scott will be a professional when going after her story – she is no angel and viewers will get to see that side of her.
“Harper is a powerful, independent, tough (and) classy woman who will get her story by any means necessary. She knows she’s gotta hit Lucious from different angles. Here’s the thing. Lucious is a powerhouse. He is a force within himself. He’s got a team around him. He’s got his family. She knows she’s got to approach him strategically,” she said.
She began acting professionally in 2007 and hit the ground running – landing a lead role in the 2011 reboot of ABC’s “Charlie’s Angels.” The Grapevine, Texas beauty appeared in a number of other popular TV shows including “Graceland” that was red hot in its first season but cooled down the second and third causing the USA Network to give it the boot in 2015 after the third season.
No surprise that she was disappointed the show was canceled, “Graceland getting canceled was definitely a shock and disappointing for all of us. One minute it’s this. The next minute it’s that. You got the roadmap and you don’t know where to go even with the road map. So to have what one would have a door closing or a step back is just a setup for something else,” Ilonzeh said.
You will also see Ilonzeh in the much anticipated biopic, “All Eyez On Me,” about beloved rapper Tupac Shakur slain in 1996 at the height of his career. She will be portraying Tupac’s fiancee, model Kidada Jones, the daughter of “The Mod Squad” actress Peggy Lipton and iconic producer, composer, musician, Quincey Jones.
“Super honored to represent what I call a love story between Tupac and Kidada in a film that I think is genuine, super true and real and authentic to his life. To be able to really play and be another existing person sometimes I’m just super excited that I’m involved.”
She says you will not be disappointed when you see Demetrius Shipp, Jr. in the role of ‘Pac in the film that faced development nightmares – because he gives an outstanding performance of the “Keep Ya Head Up” singer.
“Some people tend to think or say you know ‘Pac isn’t dead you know so – he’s resurrected almost through Demetrius. It’s crazy. It’s not even like he plays him. He is him.”
Shipp, who bears a striking resemblance to Tupac, is a newcomer with only one other role to his credit, the TV movie #unlock’d“. “Keep Ya Head Up” is expected to be released this year.
Tupac’s award winning album entitled All Eyez on Me was released on February 13, 1996 and is widely considered one of the greatest hip hop/rap albums of all time. He would not enjoy the accolades – shot and killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas on September 7 the same year the album was released.
“Empire” also stars Taraji P. Henson, Jussie Smollett, Bryshere Y. Gray, and Trai Byers.
Hear Tene Croom’s exclusive interview with Annie Ilonzeh:
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