Thursday, April 22, 2021

Drug Gossip Follows Malik Yoba’s Mysterious ‘Empire’ Exit

Empire EP 8 - Malik Yoba and Trai Byers
Vernon (Malik Yoba, L) and Andre (Trai Byers, R) have a discussion in the “The Lyon’s Roar” episode of EMPIRE

*Conspiracy theories are filling up the vacuum left behind by the out-of-left-field death of Malik Yoba’s character Vernon Turner on the “Empire.”

The actor told TMZ last week that Fox execs informed co-creator Lee Daniels that “somebody had to die” on the season finale, but Yoba said he didn’t know which party – Fox or Daniels – chose his character in particular to receive the fatal blow.

Vernon (Malik Yoba) is called to the morgue to confirm a dead body in the "Outspoken King" episode of EMPIRE
Vernon (Malik Yoba) is called to the morgue to confirm a dead body in the “Outspoken King” episode of EMPIRE

There has also been talk that Daniels, who is openly gay, made Vernon that “somebody” to be killed as payback for Yoba accidentally outing co-star Jussie Smollett before the actor was ready.

In a February interview with, Yoba said of the storyline involving Smollett’s character Jamal being homosexual:

“So, obviously, Lee is gay. That was an important storyline for him. I think it’s important for people to see themselves. Even within the black community. But if you aren’t really, really taking it off of screen and making it live in the community in a significant way … like I know Jussie, he is gay, and he’s very committed to issues around the LGBT community. He and I have a very close relationship.”

Another rumor has drug use as the reason behind Yoba’s forced exit. The quoted an unnamed source saying:

“Malik Yoba is back on drugs and he was making everyone on the set uncomfortable. One star of the show even threatened to quit during the 10th episode, but then they upped their pay to convince them to stay. Fox caught wind of what was going on and gave Lee Daniels an ultimatum: ‘You tell Malik he’s fired or we will.’ Fox also threatened to shelve the show indefinitely if Daniels didn’t do as he was told. So he did, and the rest is history.”

Neither Yoba nor Fox have addressed the rumors. Fox maintains that Yoba’s character was killed off as part of a planned shakeup heading into season 2.

Meanwhile, the former “New York Undercover” star told the podcast Combat Jack Show  that “Empire” executive producer/showrunner Ilene Chaiken deserves some of the blame for his sudden demise.  He said:

“She runs the writer’s room, she’s in charge of hiring the directors and oversees the whole creative process of the show. So, I was definitely like ‘Dude? Really? There’s no way we can like… that’s the story. It’s bad enough y’all haven’t written anything real significant that I can sink my teeth into. People don’t even know who Vernon was.”

And sadly, the world will never will.

Malik Yoba as Vernon Turner on EMPIRE
Malik Yoba as Vernon Turner on EMPIRE

Season 2 has been green-lighted without Uncle Vernon for Lucious to kick around anymore.

Below, Daniels tells us what we can expect when the Lyons finally return.

R.I.P. Vernon Turner. We barely knew ye.



  1. Malik Yoba, Monique, Dame Dash, 50 Cents and several more that shall remain nameless. When the show dies, so will his career. They will let him win until he loses and the blackball him back.

  2. The rumors are a little silly. First, any decision like this would have been made by the writers and showrunner – Ilene Chaiken – first, and approved up the chain by Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, and Brian Grazer. Lee Daniels isn’t the only executive producer on this program. FOX also would not have shelved “Empire” indefinitely after the 10th episode was shot, because that episode would have wrapped days before the premiere date and too much marketing money had been spent by that time.

    Second, the finale wrapped shooting at the end of January. Yoba had to hold the knowledge that he was being written off the show for two months. I’m not sure if people think TV programs are broadcast live and not shot months ahead of time to facilitate time for editing and post-production, but Yoba’s comments about Jussie Smollett would not have had any bearing on his being written off the show.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -