Jussie Smollett decided to sit out the NAACP Image Awards on Sunday night, but that doesn’t mean his presence wasn’t felt. Actor-comedian Chris Rock slammed the Empire actor despite being told that he couldn’t make any jokes about Smollett, saying he didn’t deserve respect.
According to CBS, Rock took to the stage to rip into Smollett after the actor’s case for making a false police report was dismissed in Chicago. While on stage to present the award for outstanding comedy, he took a moment to weigh in on the fierce debate.
“They said no Jussie Smollett jokes,” Rock said on stage. “Yeah, I know, but what a waste of light skin. Do you know what I could do with that light skin? That curly hair, my career would be out of here. I would be f**cking running Hollywood. What the hell was he thinking? You are known as ‘Jessie’ for now on. You don’t even get the ‘u’ anymore. That ‘u’ was for respect. You ain’t getting no respect from me.”
Rock then presented the award to the show Black-ish, and when star Yara Shahidi took the stage, she responded to Rock’s comments.
“I stand with Jussie,” Shahidi said.
Producers had told the 54-year-old comedian that he wasn’t to make any jokes about Smollett, but Rock defied the instructions and went after the actor anyway.
Smollett was nominated for best supporting actor for his role in Empire as Jamal Lyon in the Fox series but lost. It was his fourth nomination for his role, which he won for in 2017.
Chris Rock Goes After Jussie Smollett at NAACP Image Awards https://t.co/gD60zRCdFB— TMZ (@TMZ) April 1, 2019
Smollett has been under fire after allegedly staging an attack in which he claims two white men wrapped a noose around his neck, poured a chemical that smelled like bleach on him, and shouted “this is MAGA Country” at him. Police said that Smollett staged the attack, paying two men — brothers Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo — $3,500 to pretend to conduct the hate crime.
Smollett was facing 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. Last week, prosecutors dropped the charges against the actor, saying they didn’t have a solid enough case to convict him, igniting a firestorm against the city of Chicago.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the situation a “whitewash of justice,” while Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson demanded an apology for the city.
On Monday, competing protests were planned in downtown Chicago to criticize and support State Attorney Kim Foxx’s decision to drop the charges, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.