Empire's Star Power: 28 Celebrities Who've Had Guest Roles on the Show (PHOTOS)

Luis Reyes
Empire guest stars

All-Star Cast

In just two seasons the hit FOX series has had a number of rotating guest stars, from top musicians to comedians to fashion insiders. Here is a list of the most surprising and most memorable guest appearances.

Empire - Alicia Keys

Matt Dinnerstein/FOX

Alicia Keys

Season 2: "Et Tu, Brute?”

Keys was in an "Empire state of mind" when she starred as purple-tressed singer Skye Summers...who got so cozy with Jamal that they both slept together.

Read more: Lee Daniels and Jussie Smollett Defend the Shocking Hook-Up

Empire - Jason Derulo

Patrick McElhenney/FOX

Jason Derulo

Season 2: "Et Tu, Brute?"

The "Marry Me" singer played himself as the announcer of the nominees for the (fictional) 54th Annual American Sound Awards.

Empire - Rosie O'Donnell

Chuck Hodes/FOX

Rosie O'Donnell

Season 2: "Sinned Against"

The former host of The View got tough as Pepper O'Leary, Cookie's former inmate who didn't quite stay on the straight-and-narrow path after getting released.

Empire - Taraji P. Henson, Vivica A. Fox

Chuck Hodes/FOX

Vivica A. Fox

Season 2: “My Bad Parts”

Vivica A. Fox stepped into the Lyons Den as Cookie's older sister Candace, who rocked the Empire matriarch's world with some shocking news.

Chuck Hodes/FOX

Mary J. Blige

Season 1: “Sins of the Father”

Nine-time Grammy Award winner Mary J. Blige played Angie, a former lover of Lucious Lyon, in a flashback scene. She performed a duet with Lucious of “Shake it Down,” a song originally from Blige herself.

Chuck Hodes/FOX

Snoop Dogg

Season 1: “Die But Once”

Snoop Dogg appeared as himself performing at a big Empire show. He rapped his song “Peaches N Cream,” from his latest album, Kush.

Chuck Hodes/FOX

Rita Ora

Season 1: “Who I Am”

British singer Rita Ora brought the emotional downpour when she performed alongside Charles Hamilton, providing the vocals for “New York Raining,” a song she’s featured in.

Chuck Hodes/FOX


Season 2: “Fire’s of Heaven”

Mr. 305 brought his party to Empire when he guest starred as himself to perform Jamal Lyon's new song at Lucious’s party.

Chuck Hodes/FOX


Season 2: “Fire’s of Heaven”

Timbaland not only serves as the music producer on Empire off-screen, but he also appeared on-screen as himself, performing with Pitbull on Jamal’s song.

Chuck Hodes/FOX

Jennifer Hudson

Season 1: “Sins of the Father,” “Die But Once,” “Who I Am”

Hudson played a recurring character first introduced as Andre Lyon's music therapist, before being signed to Empire as a gospel singer.

Chuck Hodes/FOX

Kelly Rowland

Season 2: “Without a Country,” “Fires of Heaven,” “Poor Yorick”

The former Destiny’s Child singer popped up in flashback scenes playing the role of Lucious’s mother.

Chuck Hodes/FOX


Season 2: “Be True”

Famed R&B singer Ne-Yo dropped by as himself to work alongside Jamal on his music.

Chuck Hodes/FOX

Naomi Campbell

Season 1: “The Devil Quotes Scripture,” “Sins of the Father”

The British supermodel was the recurring girlfriend of Hakeem Lyon, until Lucious forced her to leave.

Chuck Hodes/FOX

Gladys Knight

Season 1: “The Devil Quotes Scripture”

The legendary Empress of Soul played no one but herself, giving a soulful performance at Bunkie’s funeral.

Chuck Hodes/FOX

Patti LaBelle

Season 1: “Who I Am”

The Grammy Hall of Fame artist also starred as herself, performing with Jamal as Lucious is being taken to jail. LaBelle’s appearance was not a one-off; she’s set to appear in the show’s second season.

Chuck Hodes/FOX


Season 2: Without A Country

The Fast and Furious star and rapper took a break from the fast lane to appear as Officer McKnight, a prison guard at Lucious's jail.

Chuck Hodes/FOX

Chris Rock

Season 1 “Dangerous Bonds”; Season 2 “The Devils Are Here”

The comedian turned to a more serious side as the cannibalistic drug lord Frank Gathers. Gathers ended up incarcerated with Lucious at the same facility.

Chuck Hodes/FOX

Courtney Love

Season 1 “Out, Damned Spot,” “Our Dancing Days”

Love played another recurring character, Elle Dalls, a top-selling artist for Empire Entertainment who tried to make a comeback.

Chuck Hodes/FOX

Cuba Gooding Jr.

Season 1: “The Devil Quotes Scripture”

The Academy Award winner starred as Dwayne “Puma” Robinson, a former songwriter with a crush on Cookie.

Raven-Symoné - Empire

Chuck Hodes/FOX


Season 1: "Out, Damned Spot," "Our Dancing Days," "Sins of the Father"

The current host of The View, Raven-Symoné made a TV acting comeback as Olivia Lyon, the ex-wife of Jamal (with whom she has a child, Lola) and ex-lover of Lucious.

Chuck Hodes/FOX

Marisa Tomei

Season 2 “The Devils Are Here,” “Poor Yorick”

Tomei embodied the role of the business-savvy Mimi Witheman, with whom Cookie schemed to finalize a hostile takeover of Empire.

Chuck Hodes/FOX

Swizz Beatz

Season 2: “The Devils Are Here”

The rapper and producer played himself at the #FreeLucious concert in the Season 2 premiere.

Chuck Hodes/FOX


Season 1: “Unto the Breach”

Grammy Award winner Estelle appeared as Delphine, an artist Jamal tried to sign to Empire.

Chuck Hodes/FOX

André Leon Talley and Al Sharpton

Season 2: “The Devils Are Here”

The former Vogue editor-at-large popped up in the #FreeLucious concert crowd wearing purple. Joining him in a gray suit was the civil rights activist Al Sharpton.

Chuck Hodes/FOX

Sean Cross

Season 2: “The Devils Are Here”

The rapper joined Swiss Beatz and Jamal to sing at the #FreeLucious concert.

Chuck Hodes/FOX

Becky G

Season 2: “Without a Country”

Up-and-coming music star Becky G played what some called “Mini Cookie” as Valentina Galindo, a recurring love interest of Hakeem.

Chuck Hodes/FOX


Season 2: “The Devils Are Here”

Real-life rapper Bre-Z guested as Freda Gatz, a new rapper signed to Empire and the daughter of Frank Gathers (played by Chris Rock).

< >