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"Empire" actress Bre-Z talks working at Atlanta barber shop, portraying Freda Gatz and more

You may know Bre-Z as Freda Gatz, the rapper with the good heart and troubled life on FOX's musical soap opera "Empire."

Gatz's familial ties are at the center of her dramatic story line on "Empire" and, in real life Bre-Z's family is an important part of her life, too. On Thanksgiving, she'll be in Atlanta celebrating the holiday with them.

Bre-Z moved to Atlanta after her mom relocated for work in 2007. And, much like Gatz, she spent her time writing rhymes in the studio and cutting hair in a barbershop.

The actress worked at at Pro Cuts Atl on MLK Drive, recording in a nearby studio in between cutting the hair of clients such as Ludacris, Akon and DJ Drama.

“It ultimately helped me build a lot of the great relationships that I still have today,” she said.

The rapper eventually moved to Los Angeles and, with no prior acting experience, landed the role of Freda Gatz on Fox’s hit drama “Empire.”

We spoke with the actress recently about her time in Atlanta and her role on “Empire.” Here’s what she had to say.

On if she thinks Jamal and Freda Gatz will be able to maintain their friendship

“I think they will and I think for him to actually side with her and help with her getting out of prison said a lot because he was a victim as much as she was. It’s not often that you can shoot somebody and they help you get out of jail.”

On Freda Gatz being a barber, too

“That was a coincidence. I don’t think they knew [I was a barber] or at least it wasn’t planned. Even when I read the script I was like, ‘wow this is funny.’”

On deciding to audition for “Empire”

“Once I read the character description it honestly just sounded like myself a few years prior. Because that particular role entailed so much music it was easier to make the decision. Opportunities like that don’t come every day.”

On talking to fans via social media (and keeping her DMs open)

“I know that, as someone who was just living a regular life, a lot of these celebrities appear to be untouchable. I’m still a real person.”

On the impact of “Empire”

“I love the pace of the show. I love how our writers continue to tap into real life situations. I just want to keep seeing them help push the culture forward and continue to inspire our youth. You never know what different shows and story lines do for people.”

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About the Author

Jewel Wicker is an Atlanta native, Georgia State University graduate and entertainment reporter. She typically covers local events.