In TV history books, there will be a before and an after Empire. Fox's runaway hit introduced the Lyon family to the world, and turned its characters into household names -- the first season's finale left 16.7 million viewers hanging by a thread. While fans eagerly await the return of the Lyon brothers, Essence magazine decided to cut to the chase. For its June issue, the magazine features all three male leads --Trai Byers (Andre), Bryshere "Yazz" Gray (Hakeem), and our favorite, Jussie Smollett-- on four separate covers.
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Inside the issue, the TV brothers talk about their life, their art, and their road to success. Smollett reveals that when he heard about the casting for Empire, he took a long shot and reached out to show creator Lee Daniels on social media: "I jumped on Instagram and direct-messaged Lee and said, 'Sir, I know you get this all the time, but I'm a singer, actor, dancer, songwriter and musician. I am Jamal Lyon in more ways than one.'"
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Smollett also addresses his coming out earlier this year: "If I can help someone else feel less alone, no matter what they're going through, I'm happy to have that opportunity," he says.
Scroll down to see the individual covers.
Bryshere "Yazz" Gray (Hakeem)
Trai Byers (Andre)
Jussie Smollett (Jamal)
Essence's June "Vacation Issue" hits newsstands on May 15. For more, visit Essence.com.