Grace Gealey Talks Empire, Anika Calhoun, Her Secret Talents And More


Grace Gealey may not be a household name yet, but with her series Empire receiving rave reviews her resume will start to fill up soon.  The Caymanian born actress took a moment to discuss the series, her character Anika Calhoun, and what she likes to do in her spare time.

Tell us about your role on Empire?
I play Anika Calhoun, Head of A&R for Empire Enterprises – who also happens to be the girlfriend of the CEO, Lucious Lyon.

How are you like Anika? How are you different?

Anika and I are vastly different apart from a few things: we are both very independent, bi-racial and I’d like to say classy. She’s extremely wealthy and I came from humble beginnings growing up on a small island and was quite the tomboy. She’s quieter, I can be talkative. She can be petty and a bit catty and I am the complete opposite of that. I love peace, joy and there’s nothing more I adore than a hearty laugh! Everyone who knows me is thoroughly entertained watching Anika because they don’t recognize the stranger on the screen. Ha!

What can we expect from your character this season? How does she mature and grow?
She gets pushed to extremes – that, you will absolutely see. She’s trying to negotiate her position in Lucious’ life and his love for her – or more importantly, her love for him and how much she is willing to take at this point.

This is your very first dramatic role, how exiting for you. It is very intimidating to be working alongside some very experienced actors?
It’s invigorating. When it comes to creating art, the more you surround yourself with inspirational artists, the more your art is influenced. I absolutely love it.

Did you think the show was going to be a big success?
I don’t think anyone imagined it like this! We are all thrilled.

What do you think people love about the show?
I think people love the diversity in race and culture, the music, the intense topics and the fact that they, more than likely, are able to relate to at least one of the characters’ experience on the show.

What would be the one thing that readers would be surprised to learn about you?
I speak American Sign Language fluently because both of my parents are deaf.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Dance! I am addicted to ballroom dancing. I also love to paint. I find myself creating various forms of art even in my down time.

What book are you reading right now?
The Bible

Photo: Shanna Fisher

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