April 25, 2019 2:23 pm

‘Empire’ cast pens letter in support of Jussie Smollett’s return to show

Jussie Smollett was accused of allegedly making false claims of a racist attack against him. Even after all the controversy, the cast of the FOX series “Empire” are supporting Smollett.

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The Empire cast wants Jussie Smollett to return to the series for Season 6 and they’ve penned a letter of support for the actor’s return to the Fox show.

Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, Bryshere Y. Gray, Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe, and Nicole Ari Parker penned the letter on April 19 to Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier, Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment chair Dana Walden, Fox Entertainment president Michael Thorn, Empire creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong and other executive producers of Empire.

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In January, Smollett reported that he was the victim of a hate crime. After an extensive police investigation, Smollett was charged in March with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly making false claims regarding the hate crime.

READ MORE: Brothers in Jussie Smollett case file defamation suit against star’s legal team

Smollett pleaded not guilty and by the end of March, the charges were dropped as part of a prosecution deal. He had to forfeit a $10,000 bond and was given credit for community service.

In the letter, the actors spoke about Smollett’s professional conduct on set and how he has maintained his innocence.

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“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,” the letter begins.

The letter continued: “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.”

READ MORE: Kim Foxx’s frustrated Jussie Smollett, R. Kelly text messages released

The cast referred to Smollett as “kind,” “compassionate,” and “honest.”

“He is also innocent and no longer subject to legal uncertainty with the criminal charges against him having been dropped.”

The cast said they “are confident in his lawyer’s assurance that the case was dismissed because it would not have prevailed.”

“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,” the letter read.

The cast also goes on to cite others who have spoken to Smollett’s professional conduct including, the Black AIDS Institute and the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.

WATCH BELOW: Chris Rock slams Jussie Smollett at NAACP awards

The cast concludes with a plea to keep Smollett in 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 on into our sixth season as the Empire family should.”

READ MORE: Smollett refuses to pay over $130K to reimburse costs of investigation: City of Chicago

The letter was delivered hours before Smollett’s final appearance on Empire’s fifth season, which aired Wednesday night.

Smollett’s final episode featured his character, Jamal Lyon, getting married to Kai, played by Toby Onwumere.

Read a copy of the letter, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, 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.

SINCERELY,

Terrence Howard
Taraji P Henson
Bryshere Y. Gray
Trai Byers
Gabourey Sidibe
Nicole Ari Parker

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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