Summer Sizzle

One Smart Cookie

Empire star Taraji P. Henson hosts Summer Sizzle

by Jan Critchley

Taraji P. Henson, the headlining star of Fox TV's record breaking hit show Empire, and Academy Award nominated actress will bring her own brand of superstar glamour to the BVI when she hosts the Annual Summer Sizzle BVI Fashion and Lifestyle Weekend from July 23 to July 27.

Now in its seventh year, Summer Sizzle is one of the BVIs most anticipated fashion events. It is a four-day long luxury lifestyle and fashion weekend, which features decadent parties, a sailing excursion, island tours and the highly anticipated "Global Glamour" Runway Show where models, designers and industry professionals come together from the BVI and around the world to create a fabulous event of fashion, glamour and fun.

Joining Taraji for this year's events is her co-star from Empire, Jussie Smollett, and having hosted the event last year, she was happy to return for a second time for Summer Sizzle's seventhanniversary. Commenting on her experience of Summer Sizzle and the BVI, Taraji said recently, "I really enjoyed Summer Sizzle BVI! The events, the beautiful scenery, the people, island living. The BVI is one of the most beautiful places I have visited and I want to come every year! It was so tranquil, an amazing experience. I can live here."


Taraji P. Henson was born in Washington, DC and is a film and TV actress and singer. She is known for her roles in films such as Baby Boy, Hustle & Flow and for her role of "Queenie" in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, parts of which were filmed in St John in the US Virgin Islands and for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. From 2011, she turned her attention to television and co-starred as Detective Jocelyn Carter in the CBS drama Person of Interest, before landing her role in the hit Fox musical drama series Empire.

Empire, is a TV phenomenon, and similar to a modern day King Lear, only it's the sons that are put though a series of tests rather than the daughters as in the Shakespearian classic. It is a unique family drama set in the world of a hip hop and R&B record label headed by music mogul, Lucious Lyon (Terrance Howard) who is looking at his three sons to find an heir to his business. Jussie Smollet, who is also attending this year's Summer Sizzle, plays the middle son, Jamal, a talented and gay singer/songwriter and the natural choice to take over the business. However it is Cookie Lyon played by Taraji P. Henson that steals the show as Lucious' ex-wife. She has just completed a 17 year prison sentence, and the small firm she invested in initially has now grown into an empire beyond anything she could have dreamt of – and she's back and wants her slice of the action.

Right from the beginning, Empire elevated Taraji's on-screen character, Cookie to iconic status and she quickly emerged as a fan favorite for her cutting remarks, sashaying confidence and a penchant for animal print fashions and fedora hats. She is especially renowned for her put-downs or "bons mots" which delight the viewers with smart phones in hand, tweets at the ready – pushing the show to even greater heights. Seems the network has found the perfect formula, and Empire became the year's biggest hit new show, breaking viewership records with the season one finale in March pulling in more than 17 million viewers.

And, it doesn't even stop with the TV show. The Empire Soundtrack, that is credited to the show's cast and features artists such as Estelle, Courtney Love, Yazz, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige and Rita Ora went straight to the top of the US album sales chart, and judging by the size of its fan base, the Lyon family might be on their way to join the ranks of the other beloved singing families such as the Partridges and the von Trapps! Jussie Smollet who will be joining Taraji at this year's Summer Sizzle is credited as a featured artist on eight of the eighteen tracks on the album including the massive hit single Conqueror.

The tunes from the hit soundtrack are sure to be played at this year's Summer Sizzle event, which include the Welcome Culture & Style Party on Thursday, July 23rd and the Sunset White Fashion Party on Friday, July 24th. The highlight of Summer Sizzle is the Global Glamour fashion show on Saturday, July 25th. It is this event that offers international and Caribbean trend-setting fashion designers an opportunity to show their designs against the beautiful backdrop of the BVI. Their designs will be strutted down the runway by a diverse selection of top models from some of the world's best known agencies along with some of the BVI's own glamorous talent.

Originally created in 2007 by Terry Donovan, Summer Sizzle began as just a fashion show with the purpose of promoting the Virgin Islands. Since then the event has grown into the four-day fashion and lifestyle event attracting celebrities, designers and industry executives from around the globe. "Summer Sizzle BVI continues to not only attract attention here in the BVI but among a growing audience of fashion insiders and visitors from around the globe, creating major buzz surrounding the event. Our goal is to create the most amazing fashion destination event in the Caribbean while highlighting the beauty and culture of the British Virgin Islands," says the founder and Executive Producer of Summer Sizzle BVI, Terry Donovan.

So put some sizzle in your life and sign up today at for one or more of these fabulous and fun events.