In the presidential suite of a Hilton hotel, above a ballroom full of extras waiting to shoot a lavish party scene, sat the two lead actors of “Empire,” a new Fox series about a feuding entertainment-industry family. They were talking with the show’s co-creator about who gets to tell them what to do, and the consensus seemed to be: nearly no one.

Reclining on plush seats, Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson explained why Lee Daniels, who directed the pilot episode, was among the few they trusted.

“Other directors are afraid to call you out,” Mr. Howard said. “He’ll be like: ‘I’ve seen that before. Give me something new.’ ”

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