Pay Up: Real-Life Cookie Lyon Wants $300 Million From Lee Daniels

Pay Up: Real-Life Cookie Lyon Wants $300 Million From Lee Daniels

Says Taraji P. Henson's character was based on her.

Published August 5, 2015

Will the real Cookie Lyon please stand up?

A Detroit woman who claims the Empire diva is based on her has filed a $300 million lawsuit against co-creator Lee Daniels and Fox, accusing them of stealing her life story for their hit show.

Sophia Eggleston, 53, says in the suit that she wrote an autobiography while she was in prison about her life as a “drug kingpin” who did jail time for manslaughter for placing a “hit” on a man, and later met with a screenwriter named Rita Miller, who asked to pitch the book, titled The Hidden Hand, to Lee Daniels. 

That was 2011. Flash forward a few years later, and Eggleston says people constantly comment on how similar Taraji P. Henson's Emmy-nominated character is to her. She says Cookie Lyon “was similar in behavior, style of dress, and background” to her and that 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.”

The suit spells out the alleged similarities to Eggleston’s life: “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.”

If that's not enough proof, Eggleston says she and Cookie "share a taste for mink coats, both had a gay family member," according to Page Six, and that Daniels and Fox had access to copies of her book.

“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,” Eggleston tells Page Six.

Daniels, Fox and Empire co-creator Danny Strong, who is also named in the suit, have yet to respond.

(Photos from left: sophiaeggleston via Instagram,Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Written by Evelyn Diaz

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