A Detroit woman named Sophia Eggleston, who says she is the “real-life Cookie Lyons,” has filed a $300 million lawsuit against Empire co-creator Lee Daniels and Fox, claiming that Daniels and Fox stole her life story.
In the suit, the 53-year-old Eggleston states that she was a “drug kingpin” who was convicted of manslaughter and spent time in prison for putting a “hit” on someone. All of this was recorded in her memoir, The Hidden Hand.
In 2011, Eggleston traveled to L.A. and met with screenwriter Rita Miller, to whom Eggleston claims she gave a copy of her book. Eggleston also claims that she received a call from Miller some months after saying that she was going to pitch her story to Daniels.
When the program debuted in 2015, Eggleston says, the Cookie character “was similar in behavior, style of dress, and background” to her. The suit says she was “dismayed to see the various similarities of events and characters… so numerous and specific, especially… Cookie Lyon, that independent creation was obviously impossible.”
Furthermore, the suit claims that there are specific similarities between Eggleston’s life and that of the Cookie Lyons character. “Cookie was a drug kingpin that went to jail. So did plaintiff Eggleston. Cookie is released from jail confinement and immediately places a hit on a certain individual. Plaintiff… actually was jailed for doing the actual hit on a man.”
Eggleston’s suit cites Cookie’s mink coats and gay son — “Plaintiff has a gay brother,” reads the suit — as further evidence that Daniels and Fox ripped off her life story. “Any differences between Empire and The Hidden Hand are dwarfed by the overwhelming similarities between both works and those minimal differences even confirm that Plaintiff’s original expression in The Hidden Hand was crudely copied by Defendants Daniels and Strong,” reads a section of the suit’s first cause of action.
As for Eggleston, she told The 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.”