Vivica A. Fox is headed to the Lyon’s den.
The actress starts a two-episode run on Empire Wednesday, playing Candace, the older sister of Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson). Fox, 51, is a longtime friend of co-creator Lee Daniels, who wrote the role for her after seeing a particularly dramatic boardroom confrontation during her season of Celebrity Apprentice.
Fox says the sisters will clash, but not for the reason people think.
“When I got the script, I was like, ‘Wow, this is going to be juicy, because she’s totally different than Cookie,’ ” Fox tells PEOPLE. “She’s bougie. her life went a completely different direction that Cookie. That’s what’s going to make it interesting.”
Fox has known Henson long before she earned mega-success on Empire, and says that the Empire breakout is now reaping the benefits for years of hard work.
“Sometimes people get fame overnight with no skills and no talent,” says Fox. “When someone has really earned it, the grace that you see that comes with that is always beautiful.”
RELATED VIDEO: What Does Cookie’s Empire Fashion Reveal about Her?
While Empire is known for its drama, Fox recently stirred up some real-life controversy of her own with comments she made on Watch what Happens Live when she responded to a question about her ex 50 Cent.
In October, the rapper shared (and later deleted) an Instagram post from a third party that blamed a recent Empire‘s ratings drop on “gay stuff” explored in the show. When asked about the Instagram post on WWHL, Fox made comments that led viewers to wonder if she was insinuating that 50 Cent is gay.
The next day he responded by blasting his ex on Twitter, calling her “crazy,” among other things.
“I voiced my opinion, but I’m the kind of person where if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. I was just really, really sick and tired of hearing the B.S. about Empire and especially about the gay storyline,” she says of the exchange. “And I’m not going to take it back, because Lee Daniels, Taraji and Terrence Howard are very good friends of mine, and they are my costars. And I’m a stand-up kind of babe, so I stood up for them and I don’t regret it whatsoever.”
The actress, who also has Independence Day 2 out in June, says her ex-stripper character Jasmine has grown since the last film.
“She has matured and she’s no longer dragging her ass on the pole. She’s working saving lives in the hospital,” she says.
Though she’s disappointed her onscreen love interest Will Smith didn’t return for the sequel, shooting the new installment had its perks.
“We shot on beautiful sound stages in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was 107 degrees, and 20 years ago, we would have been outside baking,” she says. “But now we had beautiful sets and with CGI and all the effects, it made it a much easier experience filming than last time. Last time we were filming on the salt flats in Utah and we just baked.”
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Empire airs Wednesdays (9 p.m. ET) on Fox.