It’s been a rough weekend for Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Late last month, the star shocked America when he said he’d been attacked while walking alone in downtown Chicago. He claimed to have been targeted by two men who were shouting racist and homophobic slurs in his direction. Not only is Smollett an African-American man who is openly gay, but he is famous for playing a gay character on Empire.
He said that during the attack, the men assaulted him, threw an unknown substance in his face, and put a rope around his neck. At first, many sympathized with the actor for having to go through such an ordeal. However, before long, inconsistencies were pointed out in his story, according to Celebrity Insider.
While it was originally believed that Smollett was a victim of a hate crime, new information released by the Chicago Police Department suggests that he may have orchestrated the entire event himself. Last week, two Nigerian brothers were arrested for possible relation to the alleged crime. They fit the vague description the actor gave of the men who attacked him and were caught on surveillance footage in the area where the attack was said to have taken place. However, both men were released by Friday due to new evidence.
— SEV (@Sev_Ren) February 13, 2019
Reports now claim that Smollett may have hired the brothers and staged the attack for reasons that are not yet known. Smollett continues to deny that he had anything to do with planning the attack, or that he gave police a false report. Nevertheless, with so much doubt now surrounding his story, it’s not looking good for his career or reputation.
To make matters worse, new reports say that the actor failed to hand over his cellphone to law enforcement at the start of the investigation. This is causing many to wonder what he has to hide.
As the situation grows in severity, Smollett has hired Anne Kavanaugh, a crisis manager. Kavanaugh’s Chicago-based firm helps deal with public scandals such as Smollett’s, in addition to providing other legal services. Still, many wonder if this is a mess to big for even her to attempt to clean up.
Twitter users spoke out in sympathy with Kavanaugh, who certainly has her hands full with this highly publicized issue.
“I feel sorry for her, this is a PR nightmare,” one user wrote.