Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert doesn’t watch “Empire,” the hit Fox TV series, but he still has strong opinions about the show. Shumpert believes it has plagiarized his life.
Shumpert, who dons a high-top fade, played in New York for five years before getting traded to Cleveland in January. “Empire” is filmed in Chicago, where Shumpert grew up. The show is a musical drama set around the Empire record label, whose CEO, Lucious Lyon, is played by Cleveland native Terrence Howard. Lyon’s son, Hakeem, is an up-and-coming rapper and is portrayed by Bryshere Y. Gray, who bears a resemblance to Shumpert.
But Shumpert’s biggest issue is that Hakeem’s girlfriend, Tiana, shares a very similar bio as his girlfriend, Teyana Taylor – a real-life R&B singer and actress.
“They’re using my girl’s character, her style, her look and she’s not getting anything for it,” Shumpert told Cleveland.com . “They didn’t even change her name. They could have at least let my girl audition for the part instead of stealing her character completely.
“And come on man, they’re really using a guy with a flat-top like me. Come on. That’s ridiculous. They never called us. We were blindsided. We found out by our family and fans when the show aired.”
Tiana Brown is played by Seraya McNeill, whose hairstyle is close to that of Taylor. Hakeem and Tiana had a brief fling on the show, but have since broken up. Shumpert also likes to rap and says he has a sound similar to Hakeem Lyon, who also shares many of the same mannerisms as Shumpert.
The popularity of “Empire” has grown immensely since it’s debut on Jan. 7. It’s season finale is March 18, but it’s doubtful that Shumpert will be watching. He says that he is not upset about the show, but the similarities are undeniable.
“Her fans are more mad about it than I am,” Shumpert said. “I’m a ball player, but that’s her field. That’s what she does. Me personally, I don’t plan on taking any action but I don’t know about her.”