Woman Sues Lee Daniels for Using Her Life Story to Create Empire
Lee Daniels and his fellow creators of Empire are facing a $300 million lawsuit filed by a woman named Sophia Eggleston, who claims her life story was used to create the hit Fox show.
Eggleston, a native of Detroit claims to be the real-life version of Empire diva Cookie Lyon (played by Taraji P. Henson). Eggleston says the show is based off her own memoir, which she wrote several years ago. The memoir, entitled The Hidden Hand, outlines her “early drug lifestyle.” According to the suit, Eggleston traveled to Los Angeles back in 2011 and gave screenwriter Rita Miller a copy of her book. Several months later, Miller called up Eggleston to inform her of plans to pitch the memoir to Lee Daniels.
When Empire debuted earlier this year, Eggleston noticed that the Cookie character, “was similar in behavior, style of dress, and background” to her. According to the suit, “[Eggleston was] dismayed to see the various similarities of events and characters … so numerous and specific, especially … Cookie Lyon, that independent creation was obviously impossible.” The suit continues by outlining eerily specific similarities between Empire‘s Cookie Lyon and Eggleston. Both have been drug kingpins, they share a fondness for mink coats and they both have a gay family member.
Despite these similarities reps for the Fox network, Daniels and Empire co-creator and writer Danny Strong say the show is based off a radio story about Sean Combs. Strong says the story was originally pitched as a “hip-hop King Lear.”
Eggleston, who is representing herself, told the New York Post, ” The whole city’s been telling me Cookie is basically me. Any jury would rule for me—$300 million is a very small price for taking my whole life and stealing it.”