Cookie Lyon was damn near upstaged on the season premiere of "Empire" by Bravo star Miss Lawrence ... who, coincidentally, got the gig because of his spot-on Cookie impression.
Lawrence tells us, he got the role of a lifetime while goofing off with co-star Bevy Smith on the "Fashion Queens" set. Bevy recorded Lawrence doing an homage to Taraji P. Henson's character, and sent the vid to her pal Lee Daniels ... with the message, "Hire him!"
Lee responded, "Done!" ... and a few weeks later, Lawrence got to audition. He picked Sylvester's "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" for the big moment, and obviously slayed it.
Major bonus ... when Daniels called Miss Lawrence to say the gig was his, Lenny Kravitz was there. Lawrence says Lenny got on the phone to give him props and told him to pursue a music career.