Jussie Smollett is stepping back into the spotlight following his first sit-down interview after his release from jail. Stemming from a 2019 incident, the actor was found guilty of five out of six counts of felony disorderly conduct for staging a hate crime against himself. Now that he is out as he appeals his conviction, Smollett seems focused on enjoying more happier moments, like celebrating Missy Elliott‘s birthday.
Over the weekend, the “Empire” star was spotted at Elliott’s party for her 51st birthday dancing with his former cast mates in footage taken from his Instagram account.
“Celebrated the queen @missymisdemeanorelliott bday this weekend with some good friends and good folks,” the 40-year-old wrote in the caption. “Atlanta is never NOT a time… #CancerSeason in full swing.”
Taraji P. Henson, who played Cookie in the Fox series, and singer Serayah, who played Tiana Brown, were also spotted in the footage from Missy’s party. In one video, Smollett and Missy are seen exchanging words while embracing each other with a long hug. There are also photos of Smollett with “RHOA” star Kandi Burruss and TV mogul Mona-Scott Young.
As footage from the party circulated online, fans in the comments began expressing how happy they were to see Smollett out and about, smiling with friends. Most said they miss the cast, including his starring role on the hit television series as Cookie’s son, Jamal.
“Cookie made sure they wasn’t going to blackball her child.”
“Omg Jamal, Cookie, and Tiana.”
“THE GANG IS BACK TOGETHERRRRRRR.”
“Super nice to see a bit of my ‘Empire’ family.”
“So glad to see you ‘outside.’ Keep pressing, healing, and thriving!!”
Among the many commentators was his younger sibling, Jocqui Smollett, who complimented his brother’s new facial hair look. “Let’s go GOATEE. Gotta switch it up on them every now and again,” he said.
Another fan wrote, “I am soooo proud of you for taking your life back. Blessings, my bro.”
While most kept their remarks short and positive, others in the comments section of TheyBFDaily’s post felt otherwise. Many brought up the fact that they still had unresolved issues with details surrounding the 2019 incident. One person wrote, “Oh I thought he was locked up…. But aye turn up.” A second individual said, “Nah Jussie I hope you getting real help ! Cause we still have questions.”
Jussie Smollett’s case has been questioned since the early morning hours of Jan. 29, 2019, in downtown Chicago. At the time, Smollett, a gay Black man, told authorities he was beaten and doused with bleach by two white men wearing MAGA caps.
He claimed they also placed a noose around his neck, alleging he was a victim of a racist and homophobic attack. Prosecutors ripped through every statement of his testimony during the trial, including statements from brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, who they say assisted Smollett in staging the mock attack.
Smollett was ultimately found guilty in December 2021. Months later on March 10, he was sentenced to 150 days in Chicago’s Cook County Jail, 30 months of probation, and ordered to pay $125,106.00 in restitution to the city, along with a fine of up to $25,000. He was released from jail on March 16 pending his appeal.