Jussie Smollett is firing back at doubters who claim he isn't telling the truth about the vicious attack he experienced in Chicago on Jan. 29.
The "Empire" actor sat down with "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts for an exclusive interview which aired on Thursday (Feb. 14) and addressed the naysayers directly.
"I'm pissed off," he shared. "Like, you know, at first it was the thing of like, listen, if I tell the truth then that's because it's the truth. Then it became a thing of, like, how can you doubt that? How can you not believe that? It's the truth."
Smollett continued, "Then it became a thing of, like, it's not necessarily that you don't believe that this is the truth. You don't even want to see the truth."
The 36-year-old told Roberts he feels if he had said his attackers were "a Muslim, or a Mexican, or someone black" people would have supported him more. "And that says a lot about the place that we are in our country right now," he added.
The actor went on to describe the harrowing details of his assault, confirming earlier reports that he went out late at night looking for food when he was approached by two men shouting racial and homophobic epithets at him. Smollett recalled hearing one of his assailants saying "This MAGA country, n—" before punching him.
He reiterated his claims that he was on the phone with his manager at the time of the attack and says he fought back before realizing the men had put a rope around his neck and poured bleach on him.
Although Smollett couldn't see their faces clearly behind the ski masks, he did provide the eye color and body description of his first attacker. When police released surveillance footage of two persons of interest, he says he felt hopeful. "When that was released, I was like, 'Okay. We're getting somewhere,'" he told Roberts. "I don't have any doubt in my mind that that's them." So far, no arrests have been made.
He addressed a theory that his attack was the result of a date gone bad. "I also resent that narrative," he declared. "I'm not gonna go out and get a tuna sandwich and a salad to meet somebody. That's ridiculous. And it's offensive."
Smollett explained why he initially refused to turn over his cell phone to police, telling Roberts, "They wanted me to give my phone to the tech for three to four hours. I'm sorry but — I'm not gonna do that because I have private pictures and videos and numbers." Smollett also added that he had "private" emails, songs, and voice memos on his phone as well.
As for what he hopes will come out of his ordeal, the actor says, "I think people need to hear the truth 'cause everybody has their own idea." He continued, "I just want young people, young members of the LGBTQ community — young, black children — to know how strong that they are."