Basketball star Shumpert says that he and Taylor felt "blindsided" by their similarities to the show's characters.
Empire, the freshman hip-hop drama currently grabbing huge ratings for Fox, draws from real-life industry events and personalities to create an authentic-feeling musical world. However, NBA star Iman Shumpert and his girlfriend, rising R&B talent Teyana Taylor, believe that the show based two characters directly on their relationship without checking with the couple or giving them credit as inspiration.
In an interview with Northeast Ohio Media Group, Shumpert -- who started his career with the New York Knicks and was recently traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers -- sounds off on the characters of Hakeem, a rapper with a flat top from New York, and Tiana, Hakeem's ex-girlfriend who is a promising R&B starlet in the Empire world (and who has a similar hairstyle to Taylor as well). Shumpert says that he doesn't see how the Empire producers "can deny" that the two characters are based off of his real-life girlfriend and himself.