You may know Grace Gealey as Anika on FOX's hit show Empire and if you don't, then you should. Grace's breakout role as Anika Calhoun has thrust her into the spotlight, but the Cayman-Islands-raised actress is incredibly humble and sweet. She dropped by the BuzzFeed office to re-create emojis and answer a few questions.
What was your reaction when you found out you got the role of Anika?
I was just screaming and jumping around. I was at a charity event just jumping around in hallways.
How did your family react to you getting the role?
I have four uncles and one of my uncles made this speech like, "OMG you made it!" and he just started crying. And I was just like, What?! And my uncles are really butch, so the fact that he started crying made me cry. It was awesome, everyone's really proud.
Do you think Anika would ever try to come back to Empire?
Girl, you gotta watch the rest of the show.
Favorite moment on set?
One time Taraji and I were filming a scene and there was banter and laughing and at the end we high-fived. That was fun.
Any funny or awkward fan stories?
OK, so I was going through the mall and I saw three fans standing around and they were like, "Oh my gosh it's the woman from Empire!" and I was like, "Hiiii!" And they talked about me like I wasn't there. They were like, "She's so friendly! She's nothing like her character." And I was like, "That's not really real — it's just acting," and she goes, "Not to all of us!" I thought that was really funny.
Best advice you've ever received?
Do you and the rest is background noise.
And of the three, who do you think should take over the empire?
Honestly, I'm a little biased. I'm rooting for Andre. If he took his meds he'd be straight. He went to school for this and he knows the in and outs.
Which actor or actress did you admire as a kid?
As a kid I was obsessed with Meryl Streep and I still am.