‘Empire’ Star Jussie Smollett Breaks Silence on ‘Horrific,’ ‘Cowardly’ Attack

In this May 14, 2018 file photo, Jussie Smollett, a cast member in the TV series “Empire,” attends the Fox Networks Group 2018 programming presentation after-party in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini / Invision / AP, File)In this May 14, 2018 file photo, Jussie Smollett, a cast member in the TV series “Empire,” attends the Fox Networks Group 2018 programming presentation after-party in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini / Invision / AP, File)

The “Empire” actor who reported being attacked by two people in a possible hate crime earlier this week broke his silence Friday in a statement, saying he’s working with investigators to help solve the “horrific incident.”

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In his first public comments since he reported the Tuesday morning attack, actor Jussie Smollett said he’s working with authorities and has been “100% factual and consistent on every level,” disputing rumors online that he has been less than forthcoming with Chicago police.

“Let me start by saying that I’m ok. My body is strong but my soul is stronger,” he said in the statement made to Essence. “More importantly I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words.”

“Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served,” Smollett continued.

“As my family stated, these types of cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers and non-gender conforming siblings daily. I am not and should not be looked upon as an isolated incident. We will talk soon and I will address all details of this horrific incident but I need a moment to process.”

“These types of cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers and non-gender conforming siblings daily.”

– Jussie Smollett


Smollett, 36, was walking along the 300 block of East Lower Water Street in the Streeterville neighborhood around 2 a.m. Tuesday when he was approached by two attackers who allegedly yelled racial and homophobic slurs toward him, according to police.

They then allegedly began to hit the victim in his face, poured a chemical substance on him and wrapped a rope around his neck before fleeing the area. Smollett took himself to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was listed in good condition.

Police are searching for surveillance footage of the attack, but they say video does show Smollett returning home with a rope around his neck just after he says he was beaten. Investigators this week released photos showing two persons of interest who were in the area around the time of the attack. The incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

Several LGBTQ and black activist groups are planning to hold a rally in New York City on Friday evening for Smollett and other LGBTQ survivors of violent crime.

“We will talk soon and I will address all details of this horrific incident but I need a moment to process,” Smollett said. “Most importantly, during times of trauma, grief and pain, there is still a responsibility to lead with love. It’s all I know. And that can’t be kicked out of me.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMastersonmmasterson@wttw.com | (773) 509-5431


Related stories:

Police Release Photos of ‘Persons of Interest’ in Attack on ‘Empire’ Star

Police: ‘Empire’ Star Attacked in Possible Racist, Homophobic Hate Crime

Police: Homicides in Chicago Down by Nearly 100 in 2018

Chicago Crime Drops for 13th Straight Month

CPS Says Crime Down by One-Third Along Safe Passage Routes


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