Lee Daniels Talks Jussie Smollett’s Future on ‘Empire’ in Wake of Chicago Attack Claim Controversy
The actor’s future on the series, which Daniels created, has seemingly been in question since he was accused of lying to police about being attacked this past January by two white men in Chicago who yelled homophobic and racial slurs.
In early March, Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts, but they were later dropped, which caused massive outrage. In fact, former Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the decision a “whitewash of justice,” and some of Smollett’s fellow actors like Naturi Naughton, said he should be canceled.
“It was probably the most devastating,” said Daniels when Charlamagne Tha God asked him about Smollett. “I cannot judge. I can only have compassion.”
The radio host then asked Daniels about the rumor that Smollett was going to be fired from “Empire” over the controversy.
“We’re in talks to figure out what we’re going to do with the show,” Daniels answered. “It’s real. It’s traumatic. It has traumatized the show. It has traumatized the actors. It is very painful to talk about even now.”
“And I think that we’re still living it, trying to figure it out,” he added. “And regardless I’m standing by him, because regardless of the outcome I can’t discard someone. It’s like discarding my son.”
After that, “The Breakfast Club” co-host asked Daniels if he believed the “Empire” actor was really attacked and didn’t stage the whole thing as police have claimed.
“My thoughts are inconsequential,” he said after a long pause. “Like, he’s my son, and I can only say that I stand by him.”
And Daniels echoed those same words during an interview with “Extra” that surfaced on Tuesday, saying he has huge compassion for Smollett.
“The cast is upset. It is a sad time, and we are slowly healing,” he said in that interview.