After hearing that all 16 felony charges against Jussie Smollett had been dropped, his ‘Empire’ mom, Taraji P. Henson, was so grateful that ‘the truth prevailed.’
Though it seemed the world turned on Jussie Smollett, 36, after he was accused of staging a phony hate crime against himself, Taraji P. Henson, 48, said she quietly stood by her Empire co-star. When the Chicago prosecutors announced on Marc 26 that they were dropping all 16 counts of disorderly conduct against Jussie, Taraji was overjoyed. “I’m happy that the truth has finally been set free, because I knew it all along,” she told USA Today on Tuesday. “We’re all happy for him, and thank God the truth prevailed.”
Taraji always believed his innocence “because I know him and I know his track record,” she said. “I’m not going to jump on clickbait just because someone says something derogatory about a person I know and love. I’m not easily swayed like that. Those little clickbait (reports) weren’t enough to deter me from his immaculate track record. I know the type of activism this young man does in his community, I know that he’s a giver – he’s not an attention-seeker.
“When I know someone,” she adds, “there’s nothing you can say to make me flip on them, and that’s what we miss in this world,” she says. “We need people that stand by us. Whatever happened to that? Why are we so easy to believe strangers over people we know?” Taraji said that at the time, she hadn’t spoken to Jussie (“I’m sure his phone is jumping off the hook”) and she had no idea of his plans to return to Empire. His character was written out of the final two episodes of the fifth season, which has since wrapped production.
Taraji said that if there’s something to be learned from this case, it’s that we should “absolutely believe victims. That’s why a lot of people, especially females, feel like they can’t come forward saying they’ve been raped. I believe that’s why we have a whole #MeToo movement, because women have felt they couldn’t come forward because they’d be criminalized in some way. Movements don’t just come out of the sky – movements happen because they’re needed. You have a group of people who haven’t been heard.”
“I’ve been truthful and consistent on every level since day one. I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I’ve been accused of,” Jussie said when speaking for the first time since the charges were dropped. The Empire star claims two men, shouting homophobic and racial slurs, attacked him in Chicago on Jan. 29. Two weeks after the alleged attack, officers arrested Nigerian brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who were reportedly extras on Empire in 2015. They were released without charges, and the police alleged that Jussie staged the attack. He was hit with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct (Jussie denied all charges.) He was facing up to 3 years in prison and a fine of $560k when the Cook Country prosecution decided to drop all charges, saying it was “appropriate resolution to this case.”