'Empire' Star Serayah Reveals Her Season Two Wish List for Tiana

Chuck Hodes/FOX
Serayah McNeil as Tiana on "Empire."

To say the bar is set high for season two of Fox's runaway hit drama Empire might be an understatement. But Serayah, who plays the series' R&B songstress Tiana, has faith that it will live up to all the expectations.

"I think we can!" she tells Billboard. "You know what? I think we have awesome writers, awesome directors, producers to make this thing happen, so I'm just excited to see where it all goes."

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And with "amazing" guest stars like Alicia KeysLenny Kravitz and Chris Rock already locked in, it looks like the series is working its way towards an equally-epic sophomore season. And, Serayah, who says that her character "totally evolved in the story line" last season, is hoping that it means there might be some more love between her small-screen persona and her on-again, off-again boyfriend Hakeem Lyon (played by Bryshere "Yazz" Gray), the up-and-coming rapper who is also an heir to the Lyon empire.

"I don't know! I don't know! They might get back together... hopefully," she says. "I think personally, I think she should play him! No! It'd be great for them to get back together."

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Regardless of what happens in the ongoing Hakeem/Tiana saga, she does have an idea of the type of song she'd like to record for the next season's soundtrack once she hits the studio again with producer Timbaland (Ne-Yo is also slated to write music for the series). She'd ideally like to do a song that explores more of Tiana's "background."

"It'd be cool to see a more soul record from Tiana," she says, adding that she'd love to record a song that shows "more of her battles with herself... to see something a little more personal from Tiana, I think would be a lot different for viewers."

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Whatever comes of those sessions, the first season's soundtrack was a hit. It debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 chart, beating out Madonna's Rebel Heart. Serayah recalled what it was like to work with Timbaland on that first set of songs.

"Tim's amazing because he's actually growing up one of my favorite producers, him and Missy Elliott," she says. "So I had a couple studio sessions with him and Jim Beanz and I mean it's the fastest recording time I've ever done in my life and the best quality out of myself that they pulled out of me. It was amazing recording with them and totally inspiring. I just wanted to keep going like, 'What's the next song?'"

In addition to prepping for the new season of Empire, Serayah is also working on music of her own. So has working on the series influenced her sound? "I think I'm still me personally, and I love R&B and that's my thing. And I love pop," she says, adding "but it's going to be more sultry in a way, more melodic and more pop, and in the dance world/ EDM."


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