"Empire" cast pens letter calling for Jussie Smollett's return to the show: "He is innocent"
The show has yet to be renewed for a sixth season.
Jussie Smollett continues to dominate headlines, even after all 16 charges against him were dropped last month.
The 36-year-old stood accused of staging his own hate crime after repeatedly claiming he was a victim of a racial and homophobic attack back in January. Following the outcome of the controversial case, Smollett’s “Empire” co-stars are now speaking out in support of his return to the show.
As previously reported, Smollett’s character, Jamal Lyon, was written out of the final two episodes of the current season. In the most recent episode, which aired on Wednesday night (April 24), Jamal and his love interest, Kai, got married in an intimate wedding ceremony.
According to TMZ, Smollett’s character will be “out of the country,” likely on his honeymoon, for the remainder of season five.
Ahead of Smollett’s final episode, castmates Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, Nicole Ari Parker, Gabourey Sidibe, Trai Byers, and Bryshere Y. Gray all released a joint letter to Fox, Disney Studios, Lee Daniels, and other executives on the series calling for his return — if, in fact, the show does return for a sixth season. As of press time, “Empire” has not been renewed.
“Together, as a united front, we stand with Jussie Smollett and ask that our co-star, brother and friend be brought back for our sixth season of Empire,” the letter, obtained by Deadline, begins.
The letter goes on to say, “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,” his co-stars declared before listing out Smollett’s charitable efforts throughout his career.
“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,” the letter concluded.
Read the full statement here.