*Lee Daniels has chosen Queen Latifah to lead his long-rumored spinoff of “Empire.”
The series, known tentatively as “The Untitled Lee Daniels Project,” will follow three women played by newcomers Jude Demorest, Ryan Destiny and Brittany O’Grady – all with hopes of making it big. The drama will showcase the allure and heartache of the cut-throat music scene, while also exploring cultural themes from a new perspective.
Demorest will play Star, the tough 18-year-old who spent her childhood in and out of foster homes after the death of her mother, and who will do anything to become the star she was named to be.
Latifah will play “Carlotta,” the owner of an Atlanta beauty salon with an amazing voice who becomes a surrogate mother to Star and the other girls — even though she doesn’t approve of their musical dreams.
Rounding out the singing trio are Alexandra (Destiny), a wealthy 20-year-old who grew up on New York’s Upper East Side, but who, for years, has tried to put her privileged world behind her, so she can make real, authentic music; and Simone (O’Grady), Star’s younger sister who dreams of the day Star will return to rescue her from the abusive foster home in which she was placed five years before.
Production on the pilot begins this month in Atlanta.
As previously reported, transgender actress Amiyah Scott will play “Cotton,” a friend of the girls who harbors dreams of becoming a star herself.
“The Untitled Lee Daniels Project,” previously known as “Star,” is the first project to emerge from Daniels’ multi-year overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television. He serves as writer, director and executive producer on “Star.” Tom Donaghy (“The Whole Truth”) is also a writer and executive producer on the pilot.