Grace Gealey & Trai Byers, ‘Empire’ Stars, Engaged: Boo Boo Kitty Dishes On Taraji P. Henson’s Character Cookie

Grace Gealey rules her empire. The Empire actress will confirm what already was a hot rumor — Grace’s engagement to Trai Byers, her co-star on the popular show. Gealey will share the news on FABLife, according to MSN.

Get your ear plugs ready as FABLife co-hosts Tyra Banks, Chrissy Teigen, Joe Zee, Lauren Makk, and Leah Ashley loudly cheer Grace and her new fiance. However, although Gealey had not formally announced that she is engaged before, she had sported a dazzling ring on that telling finger during a birthday party.

“They are definitely going strong,” said an insider. “They make a really cute couple.”

But although they’re oh-so cute in real life, don’t look for the actor and actress to become involved in a rosy romance on Empire. Gealey portrays Anika Calhoun, and the script calls for her to be involved with Lucious Lyon, played by Terrence Howard. As for Byers, he’s Andre, the son of Lucious.

Grace Gealey and Trai Byers are engaged.
Grace Gealey and Trai Byers are engaged.

But Empire has become known for twists, turns, and trauma drama, including guest stars such as Alicia Keys, Lenny Kravitz, Ludacris, Chris Rock, and Kelly Rowland, so anything is possible. Season 2 royally rolled out on September 23.

Gealey told the Wrap that during her first season on Empire, she loved the exchange that she and Cookie had. Portrayed by Taraji P. Henson, Cookie is different from Anika but both women are driven to succeed, pointed out Grace. And Gealey feels that as a result, the show offers fascinating insights into the lives of female entrepreneurs.

“I think that even though Cookie and Anika are very different, they’re very similar in a lot of ways too. They’re both businesswomen, they’re both independent, they’re both very indomitable, and they’re purpose driven. And sometimes when that can walk hand in hand it can reap very powerful results,” said Grace.

Gealey hinted that the negotiations that will take place between the two characters will enhance the drama of the show.

Grace Gealey attends the "Empire" series season 2 New York Premiere.
Grace Gealey attends the "Empire" series season 2 New York Premiere.

“You’ll definitely see some interesting twists and turns in their dynamic. It’s going to be much more multi-dimensional than it was last season,” promised Grace.

As for the relationship between Gealey’s character and Lucious, Grace opined that because of their past, it’s not likely that they’ll start planning a fabulous wedding. However, added the actress, Empire has become known for dramatic plot shifts, so she won’t say no to the possibility.

“In the world of ‘Empire’ we’re used to seeing an episode where you start off and–like one episode last season where everyone was like, ‘Hey, let’s do a family album.’ But by the end of the episode, no one’s doing a family anything. So there could be some twists and turns in that relationship as well,” admitted Grace.

Gealey’s Anika is known as Boo Boo Kitty by Cookie.

Actress Grace Gealey is known as Boo Boo Kitty.
Actress Grace Gealey is known as Boo Boo Kitty.

But does Cookie deserve her own special nickname? Grace said that she prefers Lucious’ suggestion of Cookie Monster.

“I really love that one so that would be great,” laughed Grace.

As for close encounters of the screaming fan kind, Gealey has had her share since her soaring rise to stardom through Empire. As an example, she recalled deciding to watch a friend perform in a play in Chicago. Grace had hoped to stay under the public radar and sneak in. But a girl’s screaming enthusiasm for the actress quickly changed that plan.

“When I walked in, the girl who was greeting everybody just started freaking out. She was like, ‘Oh my God, oh my God!’ And I didn’t want to bring attention to the fact that I was there. I just wanted to sneak in and watch the show. I touched her and I said, ‘Hi, don’t, don’t’ and she goes, ‘Oh my God, she touched me!’ She was so cute. I was like, ‘I can’t believe this girl’s freaking out like this.’ It was really adorable,” admitted Gealey.

[Photo by Maury Phillips/Getty Images for GBK Productions, LLC; Photos by Kevin Winter/Getty Images; Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]