Deadline is reporting that the cast and crew of Empire have come to a consensus (at least in public forums) and they are going to back up their Jussie Smollett despite him maybe faking a hate crime against himself. The mess which kept getting messier is now maybe messier? Or maybe some would consider this less messy? Since it’s like he’s maybe keeping his job? So his mess is ending? But then keeping him is a whole mess in itself, right? Oh well, lets dive in.
Jussie saw a brief reprieve from the onslaught of bad news coming his way after all the charges against him for allegedly staging his own hate crime, were suddenly dropped. He could breathe for a minute, but not too long. He was still getting hammered with bad press, and the City of Chicago sued him, and everyone on Empire was like: “what the hell?” It wasn’t clear if Jussie would stay on Empire of if he would he end up a “washed up actor” like State’s Attorney Kim Foxx called him?
On Wednesday, Lee Daniels, the co-creator of Empire, said on Good Day New York that Jussie Smollett’s fate was currently “in discussions” which sounds ominous, so it seems that Fox isn’t sure how they want to play things. But the cast of Empire have come out distinctively Pro-Jussie.
Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, Bryshere Y. Gray, Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe, and Nicole Ari Parker wrote an open letter directed to a bunch of CEOs and Chairs of Entertainment and executive producers of the show with the sole purpose of letting their support for Jussie be known.
Jussie’s character made his last appearance of the season on Empire last night when he (SPOILER ALERT) got married in TV’s first ever gay black wedding. Jussie will not be in the season’s final episodes. While a sixth season of the show is pretty much for sure, it’s definitely not for sure if Jussie will be on it. And it’s even more complicated now because Disney bought all those Fox assets, like Empire. Fox may want one thing and Disney may want another, but my guess is they both want the same thing: Jussie off the show. Like, what’s easier: dealing with the fallout of having a possibly (probably) liar on your show? Or ditching him and creating some other gay character to fill the void?
Hopefully for Jussie he gets to stick around, at least for a few more episodes at least. Maybe they can kill him off dramatically or something? I just feel he really needs a paycheck right now; legal fees add up and Chicago wants its piece.
Here’s the full open letter:
Dear Charlie, Dana, Michael, Lee, Danny, Francie, Brian, Sanaa, Dennis, and Brett,
Together, as a united front, we stand with Jussie Smollett and ask that our co-star, brother and friend be brought back for our sixth season of Empire.
We understand the past months have been difficult to process—sometimes the headlines brought more confusion than clarity, yet we now have a conclusion to this ordeal. Throughout Empire’s five seasons working with Jussie and watching how he has conducted himself throughout this traumatic event, we have come to know not just the character Jussie portrays, but also truly come to know Jussie’s personal character. He is kind. He is compassionate. He is honest and above all he is filled with integrity. He is also innocent and no longer subject to legal uncertainty with the criminal charges against him having been dropped. We are confident in his lawyer’s assurance that the case was dismissed because it would not have prevailed.
Jussie has shown us on and off the set who he really is as a leader. In addition to being a caring friend and cast member who treats every crew member with love and respect, he has spent time with our families and individually supported each of us. These recent and detailed letters from The Black AIDS Institute, the Rainbow Push Coalition and the City Lights Orchestra shine a light on his commitment to true community service. Just a few months ago, Jussie partnered with the Trevor Project to provide support to their volunteer program that allows LGBTQ youth in crisis access to vital counseling services. Prior to that, he gave every cent from his sold out world tour to numerous charities. He has adopted a school in Chicago, taught songwriting to incarcerated youth at the Cook County Jail last year and bought the family of Kayden Kinckle, a six-year-old, double amputee, a wheelchair accessible van due to his school district not having a wheelchair accessible school bus. He has traveled to South Africa for service as well as to Jamaica to quietly meet about the safety of LGBTQ youth. This was all done without posturing, the need for attention or even discussion.
This is the Jussie we know.
It’s clearer every day that the extreme political climate in our country has only made our system of justice and the court of public opinion more unjust.
It is why now, more than ever, we must stand together as a family. A family is there for us in good times and bad. It can cut through the noise and confusion to understand that there is a person in the center of all this who deserves nothing more than to move forward with his life. We understand that this show is a business. And that business matters to us as well. We are confident our fans will welcome our “Jamal” back into the Empire family as enthusiastically as we will.
That is why we write today to ask you to keep Jussie on the cast so that we can all put this behind us and move forward. Thank you for taking time to hear us. It’s our hope that together we will move into our sixth season as the entire Empire family should.