‘EMPIRE’ star Ta’Rhonda Jones on her real-life rap career and Jussie Smollett drama

Ta'Rhonda Jones
(Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images for Rooftop Cinema Club)

Ta’Rhonda Jones has been heating up the small screen FOX’s EMPIRE for years and viewers recently learned she has some serious rhyme skills. The actress actually started out as a rapper and continues to pursue a real-life music career under the moniker Lady Heroine, recently opening up for Lil Kim.

TheGrio caught up with this talented beauty to find out how she manages both careers and how she feels about the ongoing controversy surrounding her costar, Jussie Smollett. 

Uncertainty over Jussie Smollett’s future keeping EMPIRE in turmoil

The 30-year-old actress who made her mark as Cookie Lyons’ assistant on the series didn’t actually intend on becoming an actress until she got her big break. 

“When I originally auditioned, I had no clue I was trying out for a show. I just knew that Terrance Howard was looking for some female rappers in their twenties, so I had assumed he was trying to come out with a Hustle & Flow kind of thing. I just knew he wanted me to rap but I had no idea it was for television so I was blind sighted,” she explains.

“I had no clue how long the show was gonna last or how many seasons there would be. I  was dumbfounded, honestly. It took me almost two years to catch up and learn the ropes and figure things out.”

Jones continues to cultivate her rap career under the moniker, Lady Heroine, but now that she’s a bonafide actress, she has her sights set on the big screen, already nabbing roles in films. 

“Music always came first for me. I never had the resources for acting. I always thought about it but never pursued it because I didn’t know where it would lead me. I knew that rapping was going to take me somewhere, i just didn’t know when,” she says. 

The show was a launching pad and I recently wrapped a movie in February called Hip Hop Holiday. It was my first film role so I’m super excited about that. I have been working on my craft a lot more and so I’m so excited for people to see this side of me.” 

Taraji P. Henson spills tea on Jussie Smollett’s future with ‘EMPIRE’

Aside from teaching her the acting ropes, Ta’Rhonda Jones is also grateful that the show has brought her closer to one of her biggest inspirations, Taraji P. Henson.

“I love her hustle, I love her story, and I love what she stands for. One thing I love about Taraji and one thing I have learned from her is something she has said to me; ’Closed mouths don’t get fed and butter don’t read unless it’s on bread.’ She’s a person who will tell you to speak up and be vocal about what you want and what you want to do. I love that about her. She’s always encouraging people to stand up for themselves,” she says.

Another woman she’s inspired by is Viola Davis.  “She is the epitome of strength,” says Jones. “I love how she talks about representation and she always takes on roles of women who are strong-willed and powerful. It does something for me.”

When it comes to the fate of EMPIRE, Jones seems just as unsure as the rest of us on the heels of the Jussie Smollett scandal.

“I have no clue. I just feel like right now everything is in disarray,” she says. “All I know how to do is just keep everybody in my prayers. That’s all I can do and that’s the best I can do at this point.”

You can catch Ta’Rhonda on EMPIRE every Wednesday night on FOX.