Stars of TV show Empire want Jussie Smollett back on set. Several co-signed a letter to producers yesterday requesting they allow the actor to return to the show.
Recipients of the letter included Disney and Fox executives, along with co-creator Lee Daniels and other associated producers. Among the signatories are Taraji P Henson, Terrence Howard, Bryshere Y Grey, Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe and Nicole Ari Parker.
The letter states:
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 … compassionate … 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.
‘A caring friend and cast member’
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.
‘The court of public opinion’
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.’
Jussie Smollett: His fall from grace
Smollett made headlines around the world in late January after telling police he’d been assaulted in Chicago in a suspected hate crime attack. However, following investigations, police later arrested Smollett and accused him of staging the attack for publicity purposes.
After this, he saw his scenes from the final two episodes of the fifth season of Empire axed.
On 26 March, prosecutors in Chicago announced they were dropping charges against Smollett. Instead, he forfeited his $10,000 bond and received credit for community service.
In early April, officials announced the city of Chicago intended to sue Smollett for approximately $130,000 to cover the costs of the investigation into him. He has not yet paid the money.
Yesterday, Smollett’s final episode from season five of Empire aired. In it, Smollett’s character, Jamal Lyon, married his partner, Kai Givens, played by Toby Onwumere.
His character’s father, Lucious Lyon (played by Terrence Howard) walked Lyon down the aisle. It’s the first time a same-sex wedding between two African American men has played on network US drama.
Lee Daniels confirms sixth season of Empire
Yesterday, Empire co-creator Lee Daniels confirmed production of a sixth season of the show.
However, he says Smollett’s legal problems make it uncertain whether he will return.
Speaking on Good Day New York, Daniels at first did not wish to talk about Smollett.
‘’It’s so painful that our souls are cracked,’ he said when first asked about the 36-year-old gay actor.
‘It’s causing a dilemma,’ said Daniels when asked about the legal action against Smollett.
‘And we are in discussions about that right now.
He refused commenting whether he believed Smollett’s account of his assault.
‘There are only two judges. God and that man that wears the robe.
‘And I cannot judge. I can only have compassion.’