Who Was “Empire” Star Serayah McNeill Told Her Character Was Inspired By?

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Last week, we were all tickled after Iman Shumpert seemed to imply that “Empire” characters Hakeem and Tiana were based on him and his girlfriend Teyana Taylor. In a recent interview, “Empire” star Serayah McNeill, who plays Tiana, shared who she was told inspired her character.

First of all, the 20-year-old says that when it came to discussions of inspiration for the role, Taylor’s name was never mentioned on set.

“I just think that’s interesting,” McNeill told Hip Hollywood before releasing a chuckle. “I don’t think that I’ve heard anything like that since I’ve gotten on set that we were inspired.”

She went on to say that she sought out writers for the series to learn which superstars they had in mind when they created Tiana.

“I talked to writers and I talked to producers about my character and how to bring her across and to see what their view was and they mentioned people, but they didn’t mention them [Shumpert and Taylor].”

As for the singers she was encouraged to draw inspiration from, McNeill had this to say:

“They mentioned Rihanna, Beyoncé, powerful women in the industry. There were a few other names, Lauryn Hill.”

Well, that’s that.

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