After six seasons, the popular music drama Empire is officially coming to an end on April 21. It was announced earlier this month that although the show was supposed to have 20 episodes this season, it would be ending with just 18 episodes.
Taraji P. Henson, who portrays the Lyon family matriarch Cookie on the show, was featured on Today on Monday primarily to discuss how her nonprofit, the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, is providing mental health support to underserved communities as the country works through the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, she launched a campaign through the foundation that will offer free virtual therapy services for African-Americans. She said that there were nearly 1,000 people who attempted to sign up for mental health and financial support on the first day.
“We had to shut the server down to recalibrate, that’s how big the need is out there,” she explained. “I couldn’t just sit by and not do anything...We need people to step up and really donate because this is helping thousands of people stay alive during this time.”
Elsewhere during her conversation with Today host Sheinelle Jones, she also talked about the abrupt ending to the hit Fox series.
“We actually had an ending for you guys but COVID shut us down, so I will be finding out what’s happening at the same time you guys are,” she says, noting that the show’s initial ending had to be reworked to coincide with the eighteenth episode. “We got shut down in the middle of production on episode 19, so they had to go into the editing room to make movie magic to give you a finale, and I honestly don’t know how it’s going to end. I used to know.”
Creators and co-executive producers Lee Daniels and Danny Strong have spoken about the series finale and new ending, voicing their disappointment. However, they are hopeful that they’ll be able to film the proper ending one day.