Empire cast share pain and turmoil caused by Jussie Smollett incident
Written by Lindah Nduwumwami on March 21, 2019
In a video posted to his Instagram Wednesday afternoon, “Empire” creator Lee Daniels has let everybody know how he feels about the Jussie Smollett “incident.”
“These past couple of weeks have been a freakin’ rollercoaster,” Daniels said in the video. “Me and my cast have experienced pain, anger, sadness and frustration, and really don’t know how to deal with it.”
Daniels was keen to stress that the episode of “Empire” airing tonight was filmed “prior to the incident.”
“This is not what the show was made for, the show was made to bring America together, to talk about the atrocities that are happening right now on the streets,” Daniels concludes in the video.
Smollett has been removed from the final Season 5 episodes of the Fox series “Empire,” after his arrest on charges of filing a false police report and disorderly conduct. Fox had initially supported the actor.
“Jussie has been an important member of our ‘Empire’ family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season,” Daniels said in joint statement with the other series execs regarding Smollett’s removal.
The actor and musician claimed that he was the victim of an assault in the early morning hours of Jan. 29 in Chicago, stating two men hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him, beat him, poured bleach on him, and placed a rope around his neck. Smollett also said that the two men used the phrase “MAGA country” during the assault, a reference to President Donald Trump and his “Make America Great Again” slogan.
However, investigators now believe Smollett paid two acquaintances — brothers Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo — to help him stage the attack. Police previously arrested the brothers, but they were later released without being charged. They are now cooperating with the investigation.