The Empire cast has written a letter of support asking for Jussie Smollett's return to the Fox nighttime soap.
Smollett's role as Jamal Lyon is now up in the air following his months-long real-life soap opera starting in January after he reported himself as a victim of a hate crime in Chicago, where Empire is filmed. The incident, which involved many twists and turns, resulted in the City of Chicago accusing Smollett of faking a hate crime and pressing 16 charges against him before they were ultimately and suddenly dropped.
With Smollett's job on the line, his castmates, Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Trai Byers, Bryshere Y. Gray, Nicole Ari Parker, and Gabourey Sidibe, have written a letter to Fox, 20th Century Fox and Empire brass about saving Smollett's job with the series.
"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," they wrote, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "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 actors go on to list Smollett's charitable actions to his friends, fans and the LGBT community.
"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," they wrote. "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," they continued. "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."
Despite his cast's support, it's still unclear if Fox will ask Smollett back to the show for its sixth season. As far as his legal matters regarding Chicago's investigation into the attack, Smollett had been ordered to pay $130,106.15 as compensation for the amount of money the Chicago police spent investigating the alleged attack. The payment is despite the fact that Smollett has been cleared of all charges.
Smollett's attorneys stated in March that Smollett didn't intend to pay the expense, with a representative for Smollett's defense team saying to CBS Chicago reporter Charlie De Mar, "It is the Mayor and the Police Chief who owe Jussie--owe him an apology--for dragging an innocent man's character through the mud. Jussie has paid enough."
Photo credit: Fox