‘Empire’ Star Jussie Smollett Was Reportedly The Victim Of A Homophobic & Racist Attack In Chicago
On Tuesday, Jan. 29 it was reported that Empire's Jussie Smollett was the victim of a reported homophobic and racist attack in Chicago, according to TMZ. (Bustle reached out to Smollett's representatives for comment on the reported attack, but had not heard back at the time of publication.)
UPDATE: 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment have released a statement, appearing to confirm Smollett's attack. As reported by Variety, the statement reads: "We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our Empire family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night. We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice. The entire studio, network, and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate — and especially against one of our own."
According to Variety, GLAAD has also released a statement of support, saying, "GLAAD reached out to Fox and Jussie's team today to offer assistance as well as support for him. Jussie is a true champion for LGBTQ people and is beloved by the community and allies around the world."
EARLIER: Philip Lewis, front page editor at Huffington Post, tweeted out a statement released by the Chicago Police Department. The statement said that overnight, the department "received a report of a possible racially-charged assault and battery involving a cast member of the television show Empire."
The report from Chicago Police Department spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi did not confirm whether Smollett was the victim of the aforementioned attack, only stating that the victim was a 36-year-old man who was reportedly approached by two unknown offenders who were "yelling out racial and homophobic slurs."
The police report stated that the two alleged assailants "began to batter the victim with their hands about the face and poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim." It continued: "at some point during the incident, one of the offenders wrapped a rope around the victim's neck."
The report claimed that after the alleged assailants fled the scene, the victim took himself to the hospital where he was listed in "good condition." The report also noted that the Chicago P.D. is investigating the reported incident and are treating it as a "possible hate crime" and that "detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline."
According to ThatGrapeJuice.net, Smollett reportedly received a threatening homophobic note in the mail, addressed to the Fox Studios in Chicago, days before this reported incident. No connection between the letter and the attack has been confirmed by the Chicago police.
While it has not been confirmed that it was Smollett who was involved in this reported attack, many on Twitter shared their support for the Empire star, who is openly gay and plays the openly gay character Jamal Lyon. This included the show's creator Danny Strong.
"I’m deeply horrified and saddened by the racist and homophobic attacks against @JussieSmollett. He is a kind and profoundly talented soul whom I respect with all my heart. The terror of racism and homophobia has no place in our society, it is the most indecent way to live," Strong tweeted.
He then added a message aimed at the alleged assailants: "..whoever did this, do not forget that you are nothing but hate filled cowards while Jussie’s talent and activism will continue to shine a bright light on to the world for decades to come."
Author Roxane Gay tweeted that what reportedly happened to Smollett was "unacceptable. I hope he knows how many people are thinking of him and committed to holding this administration and its ilk accountable for this hothouse of hate being fostered."
On Instagram, Grown-ish's Yara Shahidi wrote that she was at "a loss for words, but one thing I know for certain is an act of hate against you, is an act of hate against all of us. We will continue to stand with you."
After playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, whose work In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue inspired Best Picture Oscar winner Moonlight, tweeted "he better be OK," Lena Waithe wrote, "agreed."
In 2015, Smollett came out as gay on Ellen DeGeneres' daytime talk show, telling the host, “There’s never been a closet. That I’ve been in. I don’t own a closet." And while he doesn't talk about his personal life in the press, he doesn't want that to be taken in the wrong way. "I’m saying that," he said, "but it is no way to hide or deny who God made me. My mama knows. My mama likes me a lot. And yes, I take her to the Sound of Music sing-along every single year. So, any questions?”
Following that interview, Smollett told Variety, "I didn’t talk to Ellen so that people could, be like 'oh, my God, let’s see what Jussie does in his bedroom in his private life.' But I did talk to her so that people understood that they’re not alone."
Now, following these alleged reports, others want Smollett to know that he isn't either.