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Interview with Serayah of "Empire"
on FOX 12/5/16
FBC PUBLICITY: Conference Call with
Serayah of Empire
December 5, 2016/10:00 a.m. PST
Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, thank
you for standing by and welcome to FBC Publicity Conference
Call with Serayah of Empire. At this time all lines are in a
listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a
question-and-answer session; instructions will be given to
you at that time. [Operator instructions]. As a reminder,
todayís conference call is being recorded.
now like to turn the conference over to Kylie Potuznik.
Please go ahead.
Kylie Hi guys, good morning, Kylie
with Fox Publicity. Thanks for joining us this morning for
our conference call with Serayah who plays Tiana on Empire.
We have two episodes of Empire remaining this year, a new
episode this Wednesday on December 7th and then next
Wednesday 12/14 is our fall finale followed by a special
premiere of Star.
And now I will turn it over to
Serayah, and we can get started.
Serayah Awesome. Hi,
Iím Serayah, and Iím definitely excited to hear whatever
questions you guys have, also to share some information
about the new song, Aces High, thatís going to premiere on
the season finale of Empire.
instructions]. We will go to the line of Suzanne Lanque with
The TV Mega Site. Your line is open.
morning. What can you tell us about the new song? I watched
it and enjoyed it, by the way.
Serayah Thank you.
Well, itís a really fun song. The scene that they had me do
it in a fashion show and itís premiered very, I think,
eloquently and itís definitely a crossover song. I like the
song because it has that upbeat and that DJ feel that it can
be played pretty much anywhereóa club, a rave, anything like
that. Thatís why Iím excited about the song. Itís a lot
different than any other song Tiana has done.
Suzanne Great, and howís the new album coming along?
Serayah The albumís coming along great. Iím actually still
working on it, itís a work in progress. Iím really excited
about it and everyone that I get to work with and in the
future that Iím going to work with.
Suzanne Do you
have any idea when it will be out or do they tell you?
Serayah We were hoping by the top of the year, but I
think weíre going to push that a little bit and just give it
some more time to really be great.
thanks a lot.
Moderator Thank you. Our next question
will come from the line of Jamie Steinberg with Starry
Constellation. Your line is open.
Jamie Hi, itís
such an honor to speak with you. Thank you, Serayah, for
Serayah Of course.
Jamie I was
wondering about Tianaís feelings. Does she have real
feelings for Graham or real feelings for Hakeem?
Serayah Iím sorry, say that again.
Jamie Does Tiana
have real feelings for Graham or real feelings for Hakeem?
Serayah You know what I conclude about Tianaís story
because itís very open-ended, I would say that Tiana has a
lot of history and feelings for Hakeem. Obviously they were
dating in the first season, so they have a lot of ups and
downs that they went through, things like that. I think that
she definitely has that place with Hakeem, but as far as
Graham, I think she liked him but probably not as much as
Jamie And this great song you have coming
out now, can you talk a little bit about if you participated
in the writing of it or was it something that was brought to
you that you just really clicked to?
Serayah It was
actually something that was brought to me. I know that
thereís a writer that Ester Dean had worked with, and I love
Ester Dean anyway. Sheís amazing, and she writes hits all
the time. So I was just really excited about the song. I
loved it the way it was. Itís incredible, and Iím looking
forward to the fans getting to hear it.
you for your time.
Moderator Thank you. Our next
question comes from the line of Malcolm Venable with TV
Guide. Your line is open.
Malcolm Hi there, thanks
for taking the time to talk with us.
Serayah Hi, of
Malcom I wanted to dig more into relationship
stuff and also Iím going to cite another question about the
fiasco that Tiana got involved with in terms of Becky at
work. Any chance of reconciliation or wanting to get back
with Hakeem? And then the second question is about how Becky
sort of got into trouble trying to go to bat for you. Can
you preview whatís going to happen next with respect to that
Serayah Becky definitely went and got into
some trouble trying to get some of the songs released on the
show, but things are looking up for Becky and Tiana, I can
say that. And as far as theówhat was the other question?
Malcolm With respect to Hakeem, your previous bae, heís
obviously moved on a little bit, but is there hope or a
chance that you all may find one another back in each
otherís arms again?
Serayah I donít know if thatís
telling too much, but I really do think that she is so
annoyed with him just because of everything thatís ever
happened. People always say thereís always a chance exes
will get back together, especially if theyíre around each
other. So weíll see.
Malcolm Okay. Thank you.
Moderator Thank you. Our next question comes from Ny Magee
with EurWeb.com. Your line is open.
Ny Perfect, good
morning, Serayah. Thank you for taking time out to speak
with us. Two questions. The first question is has there been
an Empire tour where you actors, you and Hakeem and
everybody who sings and makes these wonderful songs, are you
guys ever going to go on tour and perform these songs for
Serayah Thatís actually a really good
idea. I know first season that they did, Hakeem and Jamal
did like a spot tour and a couple of dates around in malls
and stuff like that, but I havenít heard any word about us
all being on tour. Weíll see, but Iím not sure.
And my follow-up question is, without spoiling anything, Iím
really fascinated with Tianaís relationship or the plot line
with Tiana and Nessa. You guys are the competing female
singers on the show. So without spoiling anything, are
viewers going to be surprised at all about how your story
plays out over the season? What can we expect between you
Serayah A lot. Theyíre definitely going to
be surprised because I donít think theyíve seen Tiana be so
outraged at someone and I donít think that they would be
expecting Nessa to do what she did, so Iím really excited
for everyone to see that battle between the two.
Perfect, thank you very much.
Moderator Thank you.
Our next question comes from the line of Karen Moul with
SciFi Vision. Your line is open.
Karen Hi, good
morning. Thanks for being with us today.
Karen My questionís actually related to the
last question. So over the last few seasons weíve seen
Tianaóshe really has sort of been in some ways like a pawn
that the Lyons use. I mean, Rhonda did her wrong, and we
canít even explain all the things Hakeem has done, and now
sheís caught between Xavier and Becky. I was really thrilled
to see Tiana hit back at Hakeem with a really feminist song
and really standing up for herself, so I was wondering am I
reading this right, are we seeing some real development in
Tiana and taking control? Related to that, is Andre going to
be sorry that he messed with her?
definitely going to be sorry. I feel like anything done in
the wrong, with the wrong intention, always comes back and
gets you. Definitely people have been taking a shot at Tiana
this season in the later episodes that weíll show, and
theyíre going to get something back for it for
Karen Great, Iíll be looking
forward to seeing that. Iím going to jump out of the queue
and let someone else go and get back in in a minute. Thank
Moderator Our next question
comes from Peter Ritchie with Celeb Music 24/7. Your line is
Peter Hi, Serayah, how are you doing?
Serayah Good, how are you?
Peter Iím good. I have a
question. Since weíre talking about Empire, Iím going to
move over to your music and your debut album. Is there
anyone that you could tell us that youíve been working with
producer-wise that you can reveal right now or is that kind
of under wraps?
Serayah Iíve been working with this
producer named Donut. Iíve been working with Ester and a few
others and hopefully more. But Iíd definitely love to keep
the team of just a couple people and have a sound thatís
consistent, so Iím not too much focused on having everyone
on the project, I just want it to be great.
Thatís awesome. I also wanted to ask you with Aces High,
thatís for Empire. Will you be featuring some of your songs
on your debut album from Empire or is it going to be all
originals that are completely separate from the show?
Serayah Iím looking forward to doing all originals, but
weíll see. I feel like if Aces High does good enough and
things like that, as like Look But Donít Touch did, of
course, but as of now itís all originals.
Awesome. Thank you so much.
Moderator Thank you. Our
next question will come from the line of Ronda Brook with
Control magazine. Your line is open.
Ronda Hi, thanks
for taking the time out to speak with us today.
Serayah Hi, of course.
Ronda I wanted to piggyback
on your album as well. What can fans expect from your album?
Will the songs be similar to what Tiana sings on Empire or
will you have a different style?
Serayah I feel like
the overall sound is going to be the sameónot sound but as
far as the regular listener listening to the song, my voice
is going to sound familiar because obviously Iím singing and
adding some of me on the tracks for Empire. But the vibe
will be different, a little bit more sultry as well as the
pop and the fun stuff but more sultry, soul, R&B stuff as
Ronda Okay. Will any of your costars have any
features on your upcoming album, and do you plan to have any
Serayah Yes, actually, I do.
I hope to collaborate with Jeremih or someone thatís really
good right now thatís out. I love Nick Jonas, Jeremih,
theyíre really great. But as far as right now I donít have
anyone from the show being on it.
Ronda And one more
thing, who has been the most influential to you regarding
your music career?
Serayah Music career, I would say
definitely probably a mix between my mom, Sade and Beyonce
or Janet Jackson and Beyonce. I say that because obviously
my mom supports everything I do and makes sure that Iím
doing the best that I can all the time, even when I donít
want to or when I donít feel like going anymore. Iíd say
Janet because sheís an amazing performer, and she just goes
in on stage. Iíd say Beyonce because she has an amazing
career, and sheís such a big businesswoman in the midst of
being a celebrity. So those three are my top.
Okay. Thank you so much.
Moderator Thank you. Our
next question comes from the line of Ariana Romero with
WetPaint.com. Your line is open.
Ariana Hi, great to
talk to you.
Serayah You too.
Ariana So first
of all, you were talking about Hakeem and Tiana and whether
or not they might get back together. Obviously things crash
and burn with Graham. Do you think maybe Tiana will get a
brand new romantic interest in the next season, like in the
next couple months?
Serayah Well, not in this season
for sure but maybe in the next season. Weíll see, it depends
on how things roll out with Hakeem, I guess.
So you think maybe thatíll work or maybe sheíll be so busy
ruling the pop scene she wonít have time for a man?
Serayah Right. I feel like as of now itís either because
Graham is gone, itís either her career or Hakeem. I donít
think it will be anyone new because of what Graham has done.
I think thatís burned her bridge for new people.
Ariana I understand that. And we were talking about you
working on your new album. Your friend Taylor Swift is
always about to drop a new album. Do you think maybe you
guys will ever end up in the studio together?
Maybe, but I donít see as far as us planning to do
something, but if something organically happened, that would
Ariana It definitely would be. Iíd love
to hear it. Thank you. Thatís it.
Serayah Thank you.
Moderator Our next question comes from the line of Avery
Thompson with Hollywood Life. Your line is open.
Avery Hi, Serayah. Iím a huge fan. What can you say about
whatís going to be happening with Tiana in these final two
episodes of this year?
Serayah I can say that sheís
definitely focused on her career like always, but sheís
getting picked on a little bit by people who want to be in
her spotlight, like Nessa and then people who want to be
back with her like Hakeem is really trying. Throughout all
this, sheís just trying to press forward and get this music
that she wants out, out and thatís what really matters to
herótrying not to let the personal life override, but
sometimes you just canít help it.
Avery All right,
thank you so much.
Moderator Thank you. [Operator
instructions]. And weíll go to the line of Art Shrian with
NewYorkEye. Your line is open.
Art Hi, thank you. How
Serayah Good, how are you?
good. Congratulations on your wonderful show. I wonder,
youíve been part of the show since beginning, so looking at
the evolution of your character, Tiana, where would you like
it to go in next seasons or coming seasons? As just an
audience or as a person whoís also in similar shoes being a
singer yourself, where would you like it to go and how does
playing this role impact you in your personal life?
Serayah Well, as far as my personal life, it impacts it in
the way of being on TV and being recognized, but I think
itís pretty black and white because itís glitz and glam for
Empire, but Iím still working on everything in my personal
life as far as other projects and things like that.
I think for Tiana, the evolution of the character has been
amazing, but I would like to just see her I guess do more of
the music and everything that weíve seen her do but I think
just hear more from who she is maybe and things like that
that we havenít really seen from her.
youíve spent a couple years with the character now, do you
get to talk to the writers and improvise or is it still very
scripted at this point? How is the environment on set?
Serayah The environment on set is great, but as far as
the writers, yes, before the season, I sometimes get to sit
down with the writers and just think of different plots and
things that could go on with my character. It doesnít
necessarily mean itís going to happen or itís going to roll
out that way because of all the other characters, but I
definitely throw out ideas.
Art Thatís awesome, and
that must be fun. Youíre part of this wonderful show thatís
kind of breaking the mold of TV shows for people of color,
black TV shows that are more universal and after that, we
havfe so many wonderful shows since, from [indiscernible] to
Atlanta that are doing the same thing and expanding that
universe. How does it feel to be part of such a wonderful
show? Whatís your message to other storytellers, performers
who are in similar space who will expand their space?
Working on this show, what would be your message?
Serayah What I really admire about the show that Iím on is
not only that it is a black or relatively African-American
cast but just that weíre seen in the light of not only black
people can come from in the gutter or have nothing, but they
can rise and become moguls and millionaires and things like
that. So thatís what I really admire about the show. Also, I
think itís really amazing that now at this time we get to
have black television back and see it back in action. For
the young kids watching, itís great.
it reflects the world we live in, and thatís wonderful. So
last question, whatís your favorite TV show right now thatís
on TV? What do you like to watch when you get some time?
Serayah Iím really into this show called Insecure. Itís
on HBO. It just came out. Itís hilarious. The other show
Art Wonderful, itís an amazing show.
Serayah You like it? Yes, itís amazing. Also the other show
that I like is Power, and I really enjoy, I really like
Blackish too. Itís a cool comedy. Itís super ditsy and funny
Art I completely agree. I love Insecure.
Itís amazing. You should check out Atlanta if you get a
chance, if you havenít. Itís a wonderful show.
Serayah I watched one episode, but I havenít got to really
get into it. It looked really good the way that it was shot.
Art Thanks again for taking the time and
congratulations on the show and your album coming out.
Serayah Thank you. Thank you.
you. Weíll go to the line of Kylie Krabbe with All Hip Hop.
Your line is open.
Kylie Thank you, thanks so much
for taking the time to talk with us.
Kylie I wanted to ask you, just to go along
with the idea of how much collaboration you have on your
character with the writers, you shared with the last person
that was talking, but what would you say are the big
differences or similarities between you and Tiana? Is there
anything that you really fought for that you wanted Tiana to
be in terms of how she is on the show?
would say me and Tiana have a lot of similarities as far as
being a go-getter and a dreamer and singing and dancing. All
this stuff is what Iíve always wanted to do. And yes, of
course, this is what Iíve wanted to do my whole life, so
definitely Iíve been in the shoes of fighting all the noís
and waiting to get the yes and once you get the yes,
pressing forward and doing what you can with your
opportunity that you got.
Kylie Just to add to that,
because also one storyline that you had in terms of your
love life, of course now itís kind of thisówell it was this
love triangle with you, Hakeem and Graham, but also your
character is bi-racial. Was that something thatóhow did you
feel initially about portraying a character that was
bi-racial? Was that no big deal to you or was it important?
Or how was that for you?
Did I say bi-racial? You know what I meant. I didnít mean to
say biracial, but was bisexual. How do you feel about that?
That was my bad, sorry.
Serayah Itís okay. When I
first got word that that was what was going to happen, I
didnít know how to feel, to be honest. I have no problem
with people who are bisexual or transgender or anything like
that, but to play a character I just didnít knowóit wasnít
in her breakdown. It came to me later in the script. I just
wanted to know where she was coming from as far as an actor.
I didnít want to just be doing it. So my only thing was just
to have a talk with the writers and be like okay, why is she
What we came down for with the character
is that she was going through a period of being in the
industry, being in the fast life, and some people get caught
up and they start trying things theyíve never done, whether
itís drugs, whether thatís being bisexual, whether thatís
whatever and they go on this fast road. But the thing for
Tiana was it was just an experiment and sheís like not for
me, and thatís what it was. So I had a far greater
understanding about it after we talked.
Do you ever get any sort of mail or anything from people?
Because one of the great things about Empire is yes, itís a
soap opera, but it goes after so many important issues that
you wouldnít think of for essentially a soap opera thatís
set in the world of hip hop. Did you get any mail or
anything from people in the bi-racial community or anything
like that or was it just part of who Tiana was, no biggie?
Serayah I donít think I got any mail, but I definitely
get recognition. When Iím out on the street, I definitely
have the gay community on my side for sure.
Okay. And is there anything that you really want for Tiana
in the future, one sort of type of song or collaboration
that you want for Tiana on the show?
Serayah I always
wanted Tiana to collaborate with Jussie, and in future
episodes she finally gets to. Now I think sheís good. It
would be amazing if she had a collaboration with a guest
star on the show. That would be really cool, but other than
that, I think Iíve reached that now that I got to do a song
with Jussie. It was really cool.
Kylie Okay. And
alsoóand this will be my last oneówouldnít it be cool if you
guys actually had Issa Rae on the show since you were
talking about Insecure? That would be pretty cool.
Serayah Yes, Issa. Yes, that would be pretty good.
Kylie You should float that by, in my opinion. Thank you so
much for your time.
Serayah Thank you.
Moderator Thank you. And we have time for one final
question, and that will come from the line of Karen Moul
with SciFi Vision. Your line is open.
last question, the pressure is on for me to make it a good
one, I guess. I wanted to ask, youíve talked in interviews
before, I know you started making music when you were very
young, and as a child you said that you always wanted to be
on a TV show and have a show where you could sing and act.
So now I think youíre 21, and youíre on this monster hit, so
I wondering if you could tell us how the reality compares to
the dream and what has surprised you or whatís it been like
to cross this major goal off your list at such a young age?
Serayah Itís actually unreal sometimes. I donít think
about it a lot until I get a question like this. Itís really
a blessing to be able to do what you want to do in general,
but to be able to accomplish such aónot a far-fetched dream
but a far-fetched dream in peopleís eyes because when you
look at celebrities and you think of movies and shows, you
think of things and people, like theyíre not human and itís
in other world.
Itís really amazing that I got to be
a part of it at this young age. Thatís totally correct. But
whatís the most surprising part about it to me that Iím
still surprised at is that yes, I did want to act and sing
and everything, but the universe gave it to me in one
package, and itís really, really cool. Actually Iím just
always grateful for the opportunity, and Iím just always
working really to just work on different stuff and just to
keep the ball rolling.
Karen And so one last thing,
aside from the album, do you have anything else new in the
works that you want to share with your fans? Like on hiatus,
besides your album, will you be working on any guest spots
on shows or movies or anything like that?
Yes, actually Iím on a movie that I just got word thatís
going to Sundance and itís called Burning Sands. Iím really
excited about that because itís a film and I also have
another film that I canít talk about, but Iím really excited
to do as well.
Karen Okay, well, weíll ask about that
in our next interview. So thank you very much for sharing
that with us.
Serayah Thank you.
With that, panel, do you have any closing comments?
Kylie I think we are all set. Thank you so much. Thanks all
for joining us this morning and make sure to tune in this
Wednesday and next Wednesday for the fall finale. Then if
you could just let everyone know about the recording
Moderator Certainly. Ladies and
gentlemen, todayís conference call will be available for
replay after 11:30 today until midnight December 12th.
That does conclude your conference call for today. Thank you
for your participation and for using AT&T Executive
Teleconference Service. You may now disconnect.
Andre sabotages Tianaís big appearance at a fashion event in
an attempt to get Nessa into the spotlight. Meanwhile,
Tariq works with Leah to try to bring down Lucious, and
Jamal works with Philip to get over his PTSD in the all-new
ďThe Unkindest CutĒ episode of EMPIRE airing
Wednesday, Dec. 7 (9:00-10:00
PM ET/PT) on FOX. (EMP-308) (TV-14 D, L, S, V)
(Tiana on EMPIRE)
Born in Encinitas, CA, Serayah is an
actor, singer and dancer. She recently wrapped the lead role
in the feature film ďBurning Sands,Ē which is scheduled for
release in 2017. In addition to her acting credits,
Serayah is known for her role in
Taylor Swift's mega-hit video ďBad Blood,Ē and is now
working on a debut album of her own. She currently resides
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