Jussie Smollett appeared in his first sit-down interview on June 22 with “Sway in the Morning” months after being released from jail.
The “Empire” star — who was found guilty last year for five out of six counts of felony disorderly conduct for staging a hate crime against himself — was sentenced on March 10 to 150 days in Cook County Jail along with 30 months probation. This all stemmed from a 2019 incident where Smollett claimed he was a victim of a racial and homophobic attack.
Smollett was ultimately released from jail six days later, on March 16. In the interview, Smollett expressed that despite all that has gone on for the past three years, the one thing that bothered him was that the public assumed he participated in the event for publicity.
Smollett said at the 19:03 mark of the SiriusXM interview, “What bothers me more than someone that says ‘That motherf–ker guilty. He’s a liar. He did this.’ What bothers me more than that, Those people are irrelevant to me at this point; f–k them. They’re going to believe what they’re going to believe. What bothers me more are the people that will say something like ‘even if he did do it, XYZ.’ “
Smollett further explained that he took great issue with those claims because he and his family are known for representing “social justice, equity and equality.”
“I think what you have to realize is that for someone like me that represented his entire, my entire career, but more importantly my entire life along, with my family, represented social justice, represented equity, equality and all of these types of things …This is what we preach because this is what we believe. It’s like finding out that someone is exactly the opposite of who they claim to be.”
He added, “If I had done something like this it would mean that I stuck my fist in the pain of Black Americans in this country for over 400 years. We’re not even talking about in Africa, ’cause that’s an old, that’s an even deeper larger conversation. It would mean I stuck my fists in the fears of the LGBTQ community all over the world. I’m not that mother f–ker. Never have been. Don’t need to be.”
Smollett also shared in January 2019, when the alleged attack occurred, that his career was at an all-time high. He said he was doing a table read for his “dream” Broadway role, and he had “optioned the rights” to the authorized autobiography of Alvin Ailey.
Smollett wrapped up the conversation by saying because he had so much on the line for him professionally, there would be no reason for him to “do some dumb corny s–t like that.”
He said, “All of these things that I was creating there would be no reason for me to do some dumb corny s–t like that. But people are going to believe what they believe and what I have to do is I have to keep working.”
As Smollett’s remarks circulated online, many encouraged the star to stop publicly talking about the event. One individual even pointed out that the sooner Smollett stops addressing it, the sooner people move on.
“Just stop talking about it homie.”
“Dude, how long are you continuing with this lie. just take your L.”
“Jussie please stop.”
“Booooooo we don’t wanna keep talking about this… but I hope he finds peace.”
“Just stop talking about it and reminding people. Move on and work. Everyone else will move on too.”