An ode to our one true queen, Cookie Lyon

It’s highly possible that we’re still in uber-denial about Empire‘s first season wrapping up last night. Can you blame us? There’s so much to love about this show: the complex relationships, the killer soundtrack (which is number 1 right now, hello!), the crazy-amazing plot lines that keep us furiously live-tweeting with every unexpected twist.

In addition to all that, the cast is a POWERHOUSE of amazing — from Terrence Howard to Gabourey Sidibe to America’s boyfriend Jussie Smollett — but no one has strutted into our hearts and homes quite like Cookie Lyon, played with undeniable fierceness by Taraji P. Henson. Cookie is outspoken, outrageous, and out to accomplish whatever she sets her mind to — and she’s not going to let anyone tell her what to do. There’s no question that Cookie is the show’s shining star, and we’re already counting the days until season two starts and we can see what new tricks she has up her fur sleeves.

In celebration of Empire‘s memorable matriarch, here are just a few of the reasons why we love Cookie so deeply.

Cookie for queen.

She is a woman of ambition, and won’t stop until she gets what she wants

Seventeen years is a long time to stew behind bars, and Cookie had all of that time to think about what she’s entitled to. Considering that she essentially took a longer prison sentence so that her ex-husband Lucius could stay out of jail, her half of the company is not an unreasonable request.

When it comes to the music industry, she’s more than capable of holding her own. She doesn’t just have business savvy, and an impeccable ear, she’s got street smarts for days. We’re all crossing our fingers that she winds up running the empire in the end, anyway.

She’s always head-to-toe flawless

During a panel with the rest of the Empire cast, Taraji P. Henson was asked about the inspiration for Cookie’s wardrobe. “We have decided that Cookie is an animal. One that preys, so she’s in a lot of prints,” she explained.

Whatever she’s in, you can be assured that Cookie will always be working it, full stop.

She speaks her mind and doesn’t apologize for it

It’s impossible to list the number of sheer truth bombs that Cookie manages to drip-drop. You can always count on her to tell it like it is — of course, that also means she occasionally gets herself into big trouble. But, being Cookie, she’s almost always able to get herself out those sticky situations — and let’s face it, she wouldn’t be Cookie if she weren’t brutally honest.

She calls people out on their shenanigans

Cookie is not one to suffer fools — or haters, for that matter. She’s also not going to put up with being dragged around or used to further someone else’s plans. She stands up for herself in any situation where she feels like she’s being misrepresented or ignored — not to mention she guards and protects her artists like a mother bear. In short: don’t try to pull a fast one on Cookie. She’s proven time and again that she’ll find you out.

She’s unquestionably loyal to those she cares about and loves her family

It’s tough to really think about the sacrifice Cookie made for her family, and all the years she missed out on watching her sons grow up into men. Naturally, when she was released there was a lot of disconnect. The good news is that it seems like she’s working toward mending some of the distance between herself and the boys. Plus, it doesn’t matter how long she’s been away  —she’s always willing to watch their backs or make sure they know they’ve been heard.

Cookie represents the true definition of family — you may fight with them from time to time, but when it comes to the important things, she’ll set aside any difference and be there for her kin through thick and thin.

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