TERRENCE Howard is enjoying a successful new chapter of his acting career, and rightly so.
The Chicago native stars in two hit TV shows: Wayward Pines and Empire.
This week I checked out Empire, Channel 10's new US import in which he plays music mogul Lucious Lyon.
The family drama debuts on our screens tomorrow night and follows Lucious as he challenges one of his three sons to prove they have what it takes to take over his hip-hop record label empire.
"I need you to sing like you are going to die tomorrow," Lucious tells a singer in the recording studio in the show's opening scene.
But the power struggle appears to be just the tip of the iceberg for this family, with Lucious' ex-wife Cookie getting out of jail after serving 17 years.
Taraji P Henson is fantastic as the formidable Cookie, out to get what's hers after taking the fall for Lucious.
The first episode hooks you, thanks to the powerful flashback scenes, which help to expose the complicated relationships between Lucious, his sons and his ex-wife.
There are some great musical scenes, thanks to producer Timberland, although they're not as long as the ones I enjoyed watching in Treme.
In future episodes I hope Howard will show off his musical chops - he plays piano and guitar - as he did in the movies Ray and Hustle and Flow.
Quite the Renaissance man, I was surprised to read Howard studied chemical engineering at university.
Another reveal that makes this show interesting is that it's breaking ratings records in the US.
Since its debut early last month, the show has increased total viewers each week and is now watched by nearly 13 million people.
According to Variety, the only drama to get a higher 18-49 rating for any regular telecast in the US in recent years has been AMC's The Walking Dead.
And the icing on the cake for me? Empire stars Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) as Lucious' sassy personal assistant.
Empire debuts tonight at 9pm on Channel 10.
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