‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett made his first public appearance since his attack, thanking supporters and fighting back against homophobia and racism.
UPDATE (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.”
ORIGINAL: The show must go on! Jussie Smollett is back in Los Angeles just days after his horrifying attack in Chicago, and despite the brutal incident, he was triumphant in concert on Saturday, February 2. The 35-year-old Empire star’s physical injuries from the incident, in which two men beat him while screaming homophobic and racist slurs, are still visible, but he was in good spirits as he performed. Jussie took time to address the attack onstage at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, emotionally telling the audience, “I have to be here tonight. I couldn’t let those motherf*ckers win.”
“I will always stand for love,” Jussie continued. “I will never stand for anything other than it. Regardless of what anyone else says, I will always stand for love. And I hope that you all will stand with me.” The crowd – including California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, 80, according to the Daily Mail – erupted in cheers of support. Due to security reasons, Jussie canceled the meet-and-greet event that was supposed to accompany the performance, per the Daily Mail. Jussie then sang his heart out onstage, both solo and surrounded by back-up dancers.
This isn’t the first time that Jussie’s addressed his attack, though. The actor/singer released a statement that thanked his fans and fellow celebs for their support during his hospitalization. “Let me start by saying that I’m OK,” he told ESSENCE. “My body is strong but my soul is stronger. More importantly I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words.”
The attack, which Chicago police are describing as a potential hate crime, occurred on January 29 while Jussie was leaving a Subway restaurant. According to the police report, Jussie was approached by two men who shouted homophobic and racist slurs at him, then proceeded to beat him. They also poured bleach on him, and wrapped a noose around his neck. Jussie was able to take himself to the hospital to get treatment. Police revealed later that they had persons of interest after viewing surveillance footage of the incident. The investigation is still ongoing.