Jussie Smollett’s Empire co-star Taraji P. Henson is here to remind the actor that hate cannot win. Henson, who plays Smollett’s mother Cookie Lyon on the Fox series, revealed during an appearance on the Today show that she offered Smollett a bit of advice following the racist and homophobic attack he endured last week. The actress reportedly reminded Smollett to stay true to himself, Entertainment Tonight reported.
“I just told him to walk in his truth, just stay the Jussie that everybody loves,” the 48-year-old star told Today hosts Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie on Monday. “And you saw the outpouring of love that he had, so, he has touched a lot of people in his career. So, I just told him, ‘Just walk in your truth baby, no one can take that.'”
Henson continued on to say that she told the actor hate won’t win as long as Jussie shows love.
“Jussie is love, that’s who he is and that’s all he knows,” she said.
Henson later appeared on Live With Kelly and Ryan to talk more about how Smollett is handling the attack. She called the actor “resilient” and said he is mostly overwhelmed by the response to the attack.
The attack on Smollett occurred on January 29 as the actor walked along the streets of Chicago. According to a police report at the time, two unknown men approached the actor yelling racial and homophobic slurs. They proceeded to pour an unknown chemical substance over Smollett’s face and tie a noose around his neck. The men left Smollett with a threatening note. Smollett transported himself to the hospital where he recovered for the remainder of the week.
Smollett released a statement on Friday addressing the attack, according to E! News. This was the first time Smollett spoke out since his hospitalization. The 35-year-old actor assured fans that he is OK and working with authorities to bring justice. Smollett also thanked his friends, fans, and family for the “outpouring of love and support” he has received thus far.
Despite the attack, the actor still appeared at the Troubadour in Los Angeles on Saturday evening for a scheduled musical performance. Smollett further addressed the situation during the concert, saying that he is still healing but he needed to be at the performance because hate cannot win.
Smollett also took a moment to clarify some misconceptions about the attack, according to People.
“I was bruised, but my ribs were not cracked. I went to the doctor immediately — I was not hospitalized. Both my doctors in L.A. and Chicago cleared me to perform but said to take it easy, obviously. And, above all, I fought the f*** back,” Smollett said.