A vicious, disgusting attack on Jussie Smollett in Chicago on Jan. 29 left the ‘Empire’ star hospitalized. As authorities investigate this possible hate crime, get to know all about Jussie.
UPDATE 3 (3/26/19), 11:35 AM EST: The charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett — over allegedly staging a racial attack against himself in Chicago on January 29 — have all been dropped, his Chicago-based attorney Ronald Safer confirms to HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television issued the following statement (on March 26, 2019 at 1:15 PM EST) in wake of this development: “Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed.”
UPDATE 2: Jussie was arrested on February 20 on felony charges of filing a false police report and disorderly conduct. Chicago police gave a press conference the following day and confirmed that he faked his own attack because he was “dissatisfied” with his Empire salary.
UPDATE: On Jan. 30 the Chicago Police Department tweeted out “Hours ago
#ChicagoPolice detectives located a surveillance camera that shows potential persons of interest wanted for questioning in reference to the assault & battery of Empire actor. A community alert w/ photos is being constructed and will be disseminated shortly.” We will keep you undated on the breaking developments.
In the early hours of Jan. 29, Empire star Jussie Smollett, 36, was brutally attacked outside a Subway sandwich shop in Chicago. “Two unknown offenders approached him and gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him,” the Chicago Police Department told HollywoodLife.com in a statement. The attackers allegedly shouted, “This is MAGA country,” while putting a rope around his neck. After the offenders fled the scene, Jussie went to Northwestern Hospital. Thankfully, the authorities say he’s “in good condition,” as this brutal attack could have turned deadly.
The “severity” of the allegations has the authorities looking into this attack as a hate crime. There are also reports that Fox Studios in Chicago received a death threat a week before the attack. As the details come to light, get the facts about Jussie.
1. He’s been acting for nearly three decades. Born in Santa Rosa, California, Jussie began his acting career as a child, first appearing in 1991’s A Little Piece of Heaven. He gained fame the next year by appearing in The Mighty Ducks. He also landed a role in 1994’s North. In 1994, he starred alongside his five real-life siblings in ABC’s short-lived sitcom, On Our Own, while also voicing the character Mike on the animated show, Cro.
2. …but he’s best known as Jamal Lyon. Following these brushes with success, Jussie struggled to figure out what to do with himself. “Even when I got out of the business, my family was still in the business,” he told Out magazine in 2016. He booked a few guest roles on The Mindy Project and Revenge, but his breakout came in 2015 when he landed the role of Jamal Lyon on Empire. His portrayal of the character – the openly gay son of Lucious (Terrence Howard) and Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) Lyon who struggles to win his father’s approval – earned him critical acclaim.
3. He landed the role thanks (partially) to his family. “I read the script and I automatically fell in love with Jamal,” Jussie told Collider in 2015. “The way that it happened was that my brothers, my sisters and I text message each other, all the time, and we have group text message threads. My older sister, who’s a producer, sent the link on the thread about Lee Daniels and Danny Strong doing this show.”
“I immediately went on Instagram and I direct messaged Lee Daniels, who I had never met. I said, ‘I know that you get this all the time, but I’m a singer/actor/songwriter/dancer. I am Jamal Lyon, in more ways than one.” I don’t even know why I jumped on and did that, but I did. It was one of those things you do, where you have no expectations. But, he wrote me back and said, “Casting will be in touch.” By the time that he wrote me back, I already had an audition the very next day,” he said. And the rest is history.
4. He came out as gay in 2015. “There’s never been a closet that I’ve been in,” Jussie said during a March 2015 episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. After performing “Good Enough” and his version of “You’re So Beautiful,” he came out as gay. He made it clear in the 2016 conversation with Out. “What I’m saying is, I am a gay man. I am a gay man. I am a gay man. I don’t know how many times I have to say that.”
5. Jussie’s also a musician. This should be no surprise since he performed both on Empire and on the aforementioned Ellen episode. But, yes — one of his first loves is music. “I dropped an EP called the Poisoned Heart Club with four-five songs around 2011,” he told Fader in 2018 ahead of the release of his full-length project, Sum of my Music. “I had to take it down when I booked Empire, so this is definitely my first full body of work…. Making this album has been my everything. It’s what I’ve been doing privately and quietly for years, for it to out there…I’m grateful. I’m a little anxious, maybe a bit scared, but it’s very special to me.”