Jussie Smollett’s peers in Hollywood are sharing their prayers and outrage after an apparent racial and homophobic attack left the Empire actor hospitalized early Tuesday morning.
Empire co-creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong both spoke out on social media, with Daniels sharing an emotional video on Instagram.
“Jussie you are my son,” said the Oscar-nominated director, who, like Smollett, is gay. “You didn’t deserve, nor anybody deserve to have a noose put around your neck, to have bleach thrown on you, to be called ‘die f—–, n—–,’ or whatever they said to you. You are better than that. We are better than that. America is better than that. It starts at home. We have to love each other, no matter what sexual orientation we are, because it shows that we are united on an united front and no racist f— can come in and do the things that they did to you. Hold your head up, Jussie. I’m with you, I’ll be there in a minute. It’s just another f—ing day in America.”
The Chicago Police Department didn’t identify Smollett directly, but said in a statement obtained by EW that a 36-year-old cast member of Empire was walking in Chicago, where Empire is filmed, when two unknown offenders approached him, yelling out racial and homophobic slurs. They then attacked the victim, pouring an unknown chemical substance on him and even wrapping a rope around his neck. The offenders fled the scene, while Smollett transported himself to Northwestern Hospital and is said to be in good condition. TMZ, which first reported the news, also said that he has since been discharged.
In a statement, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said: “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.”
Ariana Grande, Halle Berry, Reese Witherspoon, Matt Bomer, Jordan Peele, Shonda Rhimes, Billy Eichner, Terry Crews, George Takei, and Zendaya were among other celebrities to post on social media, as they sent support to Smollett, while also calling for justice against the “heartbreaking and horrifying” act.
See the reactions below.
Lee Daniels and Danny Strong created this Fox drama about a kingpin of hip-hop (played by Terrence Howard) and his family, who fight him for control of the empire.