By Yuriy Andriyashchuk
Hip-HopVibe.com Staff Writer
Jussie Smollett’s 16 felony counts of filing a false police report in staging his own hate crime a few months ago were shockingly dropped last month. While he avoided over 20 years of prison time, his name is still tainted with few people wanting to work with him.
On the other hand, fellow Empire cast members Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, and more have Smollett’s back 100%. Smollett was previously cut from the final two episodes of the fifth season. Henson, Howard, Bryshere Y. Gray, Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe, and Nicole Ari Parker all sent in a letter to Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier, Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment chairwoman Dana Walden, Fox president Michael Thorn, and Empire co-creators Danny Strong and Lee Daniels calling for them to bring Smollett back for season six, per Deadline.
They all maintain Smollett’s innocence after he was cleared of the charges. Smollett was also vouched for as someone who is compassionate and has integrity.
“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. 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.”
In addition to Smollett being blackballed by the industry for his actions, Nigerian brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo have been having trouble getting acting agencies to bring them on board after their involvement in helping Smollett stage this attack. They supposedly played the roles of his attackers. It will definitely be interesting to see if this letter persuades Fox, Disney, ABC and Empire creators to bring back Smollett. They could face serious criticism if they do make it happen but then again, Smollett is still innocent as of now.
Check out the full letter in support of Jussie Smollett below.
Dear Charlie, Dana, Michael, Lee, Danny, Francie, Brian, Sanaa, Dennis, and Brett,
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.
We understand the past months have been difficult to process—sometimes the headlines brought more confusion than clarity, yet we now have a conclusion to this ordeal. 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.
Jussie has shown us on and off the set who he really is as a leader. In addition to being a caring friend and cast member who treats every crew member with love and respect, he has spent time with our families and individually supported each of us. These recent and detailed letters from The Black AIDS Institute, the Rainbow Push Coalition and the City Lights Orchestra shine a light on his commitment to true community service. Just a few months ago, Jussie partnered with the Trevor Project to provide support to their volunteer program that allows LGBTQ youth in crisis access to vital counseling services. Prior to that, he gave every cent from his sold out world tour to numerous charities. He has adopted a school in Chicago, taught songwriting to incarcerated youth at the Cook County Jail last year and bought the family of Kayden Kinckle, a six-year-old, double amputee, a wheelchair accessible van due to his school district not having a wheelchair accessible school bus. He has traveled to South Africa for service as well as to Jamaica to quietly meet about the safety of LGBTQ youth. This was all done without posturing, the need for attention or even discussion.
This is the Jussie we know.
It’s clearer every day that the extreme political climate in our country has only made our system of justice and the court of public opinion more unjust.
It is why now, more than ever, we must stand together as a family. 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. We understand that this show is a business. And that business matters to us as well. We are confident our fans will welcome our “Jamal” back into the Empire family as enthusiastically as we will.
That is why we write today to ask you to keep Jussie on the cast so that we can all put this behind us and move forward. Thank you for taking time to hear us. It’s our hope that together we will move into our sixth season as the entire Empire family should.
Taraji P Henson
Bryshere Y. Gray
Nicole Ari Parker
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