The ‘Empire’ Actor Recalls A Traumatic Night
Jussie Smollett is finally speaking up after reports of his brutal attack by racist, homophobic MAGA must.
Smollett sat down with Robin Roberts of Good Morning America for his first interview detailing his attack last month. He said he was in the middle of picking up some food from Subway in Chicago and was on the phone with his manager when someone called him a racist and homophobic slur.
Jussie said a guy in a mask then punched him screaming “This MAGA country ni**er,” and Jussie punched him back, which resulted in a short scuffle outside. He said a second unknown guy jumped in, kicking Jussie in his back.
In the interview with Robin, Jussie also addressed the doubters who might’ve thought he was lying about the whole incident:
“I have to acknowledge the lies, and the hate. And it feels like if I had said it was a Muslim, or a Mexican, or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me much more. A lot more. And that says a lot about the place that we are in our country right now…It’s not necessarily that you don’t believe that this is the truth, you don’t even want to see the truth.
Smollett, who portrays the openly gay musician Jamal on Empire, said he suffered injuries to his clavicle bone and ribs during the attack.
However, some still questioned his story:
“For me, the main thing was the idea that I somehow switched up my story, you know? And that somehow maybe I added a little extra trinket, you know, of the MAGA thing,” Smollett said. “I didn’t need to add anything like that. They called me a f—-, they called me a n—-. There’s no which way you cut it. I don’t need some MAGA hat as the cherry on top of some racist sundae.”
Jussie also addressed rumors that he was in the middle of a late night love visit when he got attacked. “I’ve heard that it was a date gone bad, which I also resent that narrative,” he said. “I’m not gonna go out and get a tuna sandwich and a salad to meet somebody. That’s ridiculous. And it’s offensive.” Jussie was actually hanging with his friend and creative director Frank Gatson in an apartment, and they got hungry, which prompted the Subway visit.
Smollett said the only reports he heard that were inaccurate were the ones claiming the attackers were wearing MAGA hats, which they weren’t.
Smollett also explained why he was initially reluctant to hand over his phone to the police:
“They wanted me to give my phone to the tech for three to four hours. I’m sorry but — I’m not gonna do that. Because I have private pictures and videos and numbers: my partner’s number, my family’s number, my castmate’s number, my friends’ numbers, my private emails, my private songs, my private voice memos.”
Jussie didn’t even want to call the police at first, but Gatson did it on his behalf. When the cops arrived, they said they found Smollett in his apartment with stained clothing and a “white rope draped around” his neck, according to the report.
“I was looking at myself, just like checking myself out. I saw the bruise on my neck, you know, like the little — the rope burn around my neck,” he said. “So when the police came I kept the clothes on, I kept the rope on me. … I mean, it wasn’t, like, wrapped around. But, yeah, it was around because I wanted them to see.”
Jussie said he believes the photos released of the two possible suspects are accurate. He’s hopeful that the police will track the culprits down, and he hopes his story will inspire other marginalized groups:
“I think people need to hear the truth,” Jussie said. “Cause everybody has their own idea. Some are healing and some are hurtful, but I just want young people, young members of the LGBTQ community — young, black children — to know how strong that they are.”
You can watch a clip of Jussie’s words below, then hit the next pages for more videos.