But on Wednesday, before the Fox series aired, co-creator Lee Daniels spoke out for the first time since Smollett was arrested and said people at the show have been going through a varied string of emotions.
“Oh my god, these past couple of weeks have been a freakin’ roller coaster,” said Daniels on Instagram. “We have, me and my cast, have experienced pain and anger and sadness and frustration and really don’t know how to deal with it.”
“Everything that has happened, what you are seeing tonight, prior to the incident. And this is not what the show was made for. The show was made to bring America together, to talk about the atrocities that are happening right now in the streets.”
When Smollett first said he was beaten in a racist and homophobic attack, Daniels called the actor his “son” and said “America is better than that.”
His recent comments come a few days after “Empire” co-star Taraji P. Henson weighed in on the scandal and said the atmosphere around the show has been “great.” She also called the cast “strong” and stated they’re currently dealing with everything.
On the morning of Jan. 29, 2019, reports surfaced that said Smollett had been beaten in Chicago by two white men when he was walking to a Subway restaurant at 2 a.m. The actor also stated his attackers yelled homophobic and racist slurs, tied a noose around his neck and poured a liquid substance on him.
Later, however, police said the 36-year-old hired two Nigerian brothers to attack him, and those same men were seen on video buying the items Smollett said were used on him.
Smollett was then arrested and hit with one felony count of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report. Then in early March, a Cook County grand jury slapped him with a 16-count indictment, which he pleaded not guilty to last week.