WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- The Empire cast members called on show-runners to offer Jussie Smollett’s old spot on the show for its sixth season.
- The actor was cut from the end of the show’s fifth season after allegations of staging a hate crime against himself.
- Smollett’s co-stars defended his reputation in a letter sent to Empire’s show-runners and several network executives.
The Empire cast members have called for Jussie Smollett’s return to the show for its sixth season. The actor was cut from the end of the show’s fifth season after he was accused of having staged a hate crime against himself.
Smollett’s co-stars Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard wrote a letter calling for his return to the show and sent it to network executives, including Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier, Fox Entertainment President Michael Thorn, Disney Television Studios, ABC Entertainment chair Dana Walden, and series’ co-creator Danny Strong. Deadline since got hold of the letter and published it on Wednesday.
Smollett’s colleagues defended his professional and personal reputation in their plea, which was also signed by cast members Trai Byers, Bryshere Y. Gray, Nicole Ari Parker, and Gabourey Sidibe:
“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.”
The show’s representatives have not yet commented on the actors’ appeal.
Smollett made headlines in January when he reported being the target of a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago. Two men reportedly strung a rope around his neck and doused him with a chemical substance.
The actor was charged in February with filing a false report after Chicago police and the FBI investigated the said incident. Smollett was further charged in March with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct in connection with the alleged hoax. The actor pleaded not guilty and the charges were dropped later that month.
The Empire cast members argued in their statement that America’s “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.”
Smollett’s last appearance in the show aired on Wednesday.