Empire topped itself with this week's arrival of the one and only Mariah Carey. Carey plays a singer named Kitty inspired by Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) to record a collab with Jamal (Jussie Smollett). The guest appearance, though frustratingly brief at just a few minutes long, was made possible thanks to Carey's longstanding relationship with Empire co-creator Lee Daniels and executive producer Sanaa Hamri.
"I directed a bunch of stuff for her, went on tour with her many times, and I learned a lot about filmmaking through the eye of a music video director," Hamri, who directed the video for Carey's "Thank God I Found You" remix in 2000, told Variety Wednesday. "I went on to do film and television, but we definitely have a lot of history together and I feel like I got a great glimpse of the music industry through her eyes and around her—like what really went down in the business. I met all these people because she opened that doorway for me at that time."
Carey, who's also close to Daniels, was very involved with the development of Kitty alongside Hamri. "We're very collaborative on Empire and every time we have a guest star, we definitely talk to them about what we're thinking and listening to what they say so we had a bunch of conversations," Hamri said. "Her and I spent hours on the phone talking about the nail color, what we're going to do with her ensemble. We talked about emulating a slight '60s vibe."
As for whether fans should expect Mariah Carey to pop up in future episodes, Hamri said she and Daniels are definitely interested. The only problem, it seems, is finding the time. "We've talked about her coming back," Harmi told Variety. "She's a very busy lady, and it was hard enough to get that one day with her."
But does Empire really need more Mariah Carey? There's a good chance it does.