Trai Byers is an amazing actor! His portrayal of Empire’s Andre Lyon, Cookie and Lucious’ oldest son has been nothing short of magnificent. As you are aware now, especially after last night’s episode, Unto The Breach, Andre Lyon suffers from mental illness, bipolar disorder to be exact. We have watched over the last nine weeks as this seemingly cunning businessman exhibited increasing erratic and maniacal behavior and now he has suffered an emotional breakdown.
Andre’s condition makes him more of a tormented soul than a true villain, unlike some of the more sinister characters on Empire. Trai confirms this statement in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “I don’t think that Andre wanted to have any signs of weakness; he didn’t want to accept the bipolar disorder…But at this point, it’s like ‘Who am I? My father doesn’t want me; my mother’s only concerned about Jamal; I don’t have anybody but my wife. This is who I am, so I’m going to be me, flaws and all.’ I like the analogy of cutting off your nose to spite your face because in accepting [the disorder] and going with the flow instead of treating it does that, but it’s also a great platform to showcase the disorder — one that I think we kind of sweep under the rug as a nation.”
On next week’s episode Jennifer Hudson comes on as a music therapist, “Michelle.” She will help treat his condition with some rather new age psychological practices. From the clips of next week’s episode she may be treating more than his mental illness as they seem to fall for each other. “She [Jennifer Hudson] brings a purity with her as an actress into the role of Michelle that connects with the purity of Andre. Her light shines onto his light, and her light combines with his light, and it showcases the Andre that he can potentially be in a way that steps away from the needs of Empire Entertainment. It’s a beautiful thing [because] it seems that Andre could have gone any way but went the way of the family, which kind of buried him, and there’s so much more potential there. What can he do? He doesn’t have to be a part of that world. I think that’s encouraging, and she will encourage.”
As yo can see it is not easy to be the son of Lucious Lyon! Andre’s mental illness and Trai’s amazing acting are really bringing light to a long overlooked issue. We are just two episodes away from what seems will be an epic season finale. Catch Jennifer Hudson’s debut in Episode 10, Sins of The Father!