Empire creator Lee Daniels made an Instagram post on Wednesday in which he talked about the “pain and anger” that he and the show’s cast have experienced after star Jussie Smollett was arrested for allegedly staging a hate crime against himself. Daniels, 59, addressed fans and said that he is “back and I’m finally ok” after the alleged attack.
“I’m back. Oh my God, these past couple of weeks have been a freakin’ roller coaster. Me and my cast have experienced pain and anger and sadness and frustration and really don’t know how to deal with it. You know?”
“Cause it happened, everything has happened, what you are seeing tonight, prior to the incident,” he said in reference to the show’s upcoming episode.
“And this is not what the show was made for. The show was made to bring America together, to talk about the atrocities that are happening right now in the streets.”
Daniels shared the message just hours before the latest Empire episode aired on Fox. Since the episodes were recorded before the incident, Smollett’s character is still featured prominently.
Smollett — who stars as R&B singer-songwriter Jamal Lyon on the show — claimed that two masked MAGA supporters attacked him in Chicago and hurled homophobic and racist slurs at him. The actor is accused of staging the attack to draw attention to himself, which led to his arrest on February 20, just three weeks following the incident. He pleaded not guilty to a judge in Chicago last week, denying that he lied to police about the attack. Afterward, he was released on $100,000 bond. Chicago police believe that Smollett planned the attack with his personal trainers, Nigerian brothers Ola Osundairo, 27, and Abel Osundairo, 25.
As per People, Mark Geragos, Smollett’s attorney, says that the actor maintains his innocence and suggests that law enforcement has not given him the benefit of the doubt.
Empire is a show that focuses on exploring stories about race, racism, and race relations in the United States. Per TooFab, Smollett allegedly faking the hate crimes undermines the show’s goals that Daniels and the team are trying to shine a light on.
Despite Smollett’s troubles, Daniels remains positive and says that the team is trusting the legal system. He also said that Smollett’s character, Jamal, will be removed from the show’s final two episodes to avoid any disruption on the set stemming from the scandal. In addition, he stresses that the Empire family has been a friend with Jussie for the last five years and still cares for him.