Empire - Lee Daniels, Bryshere Gray and Jussie Smollett

Empire – Lee Daniels, Bryshere Gray and Jussie Smollett

*All Lee Daniels wants to do is make his mama proud.

The producer of Fox’s breakout hit “Empire,” who has already achieved critical and box office victories with “Precious” and “The Butler,” says the success of the TV show caught him off guard: “I didn’t even think we’d be picked up!”

But his mother saw it coming.

“I’m surprised [at the success], because I just was conditioned to thinking [against it], but my mom said she’s not surprised so I guess she’s the boss,” Daniels said. “My mom is really happy and I live to make my mom and my kids happy and they’re really proud of this show. It’s a great feeling to make your family happy.”

lee daniels empire carpet

Another source of happiness, Daniels said, is the freedom to work on his first television series without Fox constantly over his shoulder with a red pen.

“It’s crazy. I mean, I can’t believe they let me on TV. They just say, ‘Lee, do your thing. Go do you. You do you,’” he said.

Fox has already  renewed “Empire” for a second season as previously reported.  Below, Daniels teases what he has in store for Lucious, Cookie, Jamal and ‘nem for Season 2:

“Empire” airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on Fox.

In the Feb. 11 episode, “Out, Damned Spot” (written by Lee Daniels), Vernon finds himself in a sticky situation, and Jamal’s ambition causes trouble in his relationships.

Watch a First Look video below: