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Meet Empire’s Resident Bad Girl

Actress Grace Byers may play a villain on Fox’s hit series but in real life, she’s a romantic Island girl

Fox’s smash-hit drama Empire continues to captivate audiences since its debut in 2015 by offering an inside look at the cutthroat entertainment industry. In that time the show has also disrupted the very world it portrays by breaking network records (including the moment Empire officially beat out American Idol’s ratings in its first year). The show cast a light on some of today’s biggest stars in television—we see you Taraji P. Henson!—and in the case of Grace Byers, the audience was introduced to the actress’s dark side thanks to her portrayal of Empire’s resident bad girl, Anika Calhoun.

Although it is a challenge for Byers to humanize her devious character, she admits that she also can’t help but laugh at the backlash she receives after each week’s episode. “It’s hilarious! It would be more fun if people knew that I was not actually Anika,” she says. “But, I’ll post something unrelated to Empire about my little niece winning an award and I’ll get a spew of comments saying, ‘yeah but you still pushed Rhonda,’” she explains.

Byers grew up on the Cayman Islands with her mother and sister before moving to the States when she was 18 to pursue a career in acting, and as a true Caymanian, she holds the rich culture near and dear to her heart, including everything from the beaches to the food. “I like to call the islands exclusive and reclusive,” she says. “It’s great when you want to get away but you still feel that luxurious treatment.” With her dual-citizenship and two passports in tow, Byers and her co-star turned husband Trai Byers have announced that they are now the face of the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism’s romance campaign.

The duo began dating during the first season of Empire and were engaged within six months. “We got married on the Cayman Islands and the Cayman Islands immediately accepted Trai as one of their own,” Byers gushes of her husband. She adds that it was actually Trai’s idea to get married on the Cayman Islands but she was thrilled, saying, “Clearly I knew we should get married there! So when he suggested it I was like, ‘great idea, boo!’”

Grace and Trai Byers
Photo Credit: Rebecca Davidson

The pair celebrated their one-year anniversary on the Cayman Islands, helping to shine a light on the romantic aspect of the Cayman Islands. “Being from the Cayman Islands, my Caymanian roots are extremely important to me, which is why it was a natural fit to team up with my friends at the Department of Tourism to help introduce others to the place I am so proud to call home,” Byers says. “Whether looking to celebrate a special anniversary, occasion or plan a wedding, I promise that couples will fall head over heels for the Cayman Islands.”

With season four of Empire in full swing, Byers is working on sharing the beauty of her hometown as well as preparing to release a children’s book in March 2018, called “I Am Enough.” The book will focus on diversity, inclusion and being yourself, all qualities that Byers represents perfectly.

Main image credit: Rebecca Davidson