Jussie Smollett’s ‘Empire’ Cast Mates Taraji Henson & Terrence Howard Plea For His Character’s Return
Smolett was cut from the show in light of allegations that he staged a hate crime against himself. In January he made headlines when he reported that two men targeted him in a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago, stringing a rope around his neck and dousing him with a chemical substance.
Following the alleged attack, an investigation ensued and the actor was charged in February with filing a false report and with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct. He pleaded not guilty, and the charges were dropped later that month.
Now, the actors are pleading with the network on behalf of Smolett. Co-stars Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard sent a letter to network leaders including Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier, Fox Entertainment President Michael Thorn, Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment chair Dana Walden and Danny Strong, the series’ co-creator.
“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.” the letter reads.
A representative of the show declined to comment on the actor’s appeal. But his costars are standing by him saying extreme “political climate in our country has only made our system of justice and the court of public opinion more unjust.”
“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.” they wrote.