Another A-list guest star is joining the Empire cast.
Singer and actor Mario has been cast as a recurring character named Devon. Devon has been described by Fox as “an earnest, up-and-coming R&B singer who supports his ailing sister.” In tonight’s episode, Devon will find himself stuck in the middle between the Empire label and Lyon Family Managment, who are both fighting to sign him.
The 32-year-old is known for his singles “Just a Friend” and “Let Me Love You”. As an actor, he appeared in the films Step Up and Freedom Writers.
In a recent interview with Essence, Mario described his character as “a very respectable young man, who comes from humble beginnings. He’s just trying to take care of his sister, who’s sick. They lost both of their parents, but he’s really focused on the craft of his music.”
He continued, “You really see kind of like an artist development in this character, which is good today because a lot of artists don’t think artist development is important — but it is.”
Mario grew up in Baltimore. He decided to pursue music at age four. He began recording his major-label debut album, simply titled Mario, in 2001. The album’s lead single, “Just a Friend” soared to the top of the charts. Mario was quick to work on his second album, Turning Point, and released it in 2004. That album’s hit song, Let Me Love You, peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for nine weeks in a row.
Just two weeks ago, Mario released his fifth studio album Dancing Shadows. In a recent interview, he stated, “I really want to reel my fans back in and let them know what I’ve been doing creatively … [Dancing Shadows] is a body of work that I’m really proud of… It wasn’t forced. There were no outside influences in terms of A&R … everything about [this project] is grassroots, guerrilla style. I feel grounded within myself, so I feel like it’s the right time.”
How has he stayed on the cutting edge of R&B music? Mario states, “Make it culturally relevant. Don’t just talk about love; make it more introspective. I definitely took more risks with this album, but it’s gratifying… When I’m making an album, I’m thinking, ‘Is this going to play five years from now? How can I make music that lives on?’ R&B in a traditional sense is one those things that lives on forever, but the artists who’ve [enjoyed] the most success are always on the cusp of the shift.”
Be sure tune into Empire tonight on ABC at 8pm ET/PT.