In 2015, Fox debuted its scripted musical drama series, Empire, and has been creating storylines that push the envelope and challenge countless stereotypes, especially ones about the African-American community. The series is one of the few that currently has a black openly gay man playing a character who is also a black openly gay man on primetime television.
In the show, Jussie Smollett plays Jamal Lyon, who has had a number of love interests throughout the five seasons. In the current season, Jamal is engaged to Kai, a journalist who has been diagnosed with HIV, played by Toby Onwumere.
According to a report from the Huffington Post, Smollett, who publicly came out in 2015, was adamant that his character not get seriously involved with a white man.
While appearing on SiriusXM’s The Clay Cane Show on Wednesday, November 14, he explained why he felt the need to insist that Jamal’s latest love interest on the show be a man of color.
“There was talk about Jamal having a white boyfriend,” Smollett said. “And I said, ‘F**k no!’ Not for any reason, except we have a responsibility and we have a such a beautiful opportunity to show two black men in a relationship together, in a healthy relationship.”
Smollett went on to make it clear that he has no issues with white men, but he’s simply hoping to portray characters he wished he saw on TV as a child.
“This is what I hope, this is what I want to see and this is what I wish I had seen as a kid. If I had seen certain things as an adolescent, I would’ve had a much different understanding of who I am,” he continued.
In his interview, he also mentioned the Oscar-winning 2016 film, Moonlight, which starred Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monáe, and Trevante Rhodes, as a great example of how Hollywood has successfully addressed issues and stories that affect black members of the LGBTQ community.
“It was just beautiful,” he said. “It was also not about sexuality, it was actually about masculinity and the rules that are put on little boys, specifically little black boys, from the moment that they are born that we never really talk about.”
View this post on Instagram
Shoot at you actors like movie directors... tonight not only did i get to direct my psychotic family on @empirefox but i also had the honor of directing my real life big brother @jojosmollett as Karl Binyan... plus the introduction of @noblewood As #DamonCross. Hope you enjoy. Let’s live tweet in a minute. Love you @followfeliciad & @tpwestfall for the fun script. And listen to my babies @junesdiary song #takeMe in this episode. Ok that’s it. Love y’all. #empire ps... don’t let @tarajiphenson face fool you... she respects me and listened to everything i said ????????????
The 35-year-old singer and actor has recently stepped behind the camera of the hit TV show and has been making huge strides in addressing somewhat taboo subjects.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, this season, Smollett is directing the storyline of Jamal being involved with a man infected with HIV. He is hoping to change the way people view HIV and AIDS and believes art is a powerful enough medium to do just that.