During an appearance on The View Thursday, Taraji P. Henson addressed an often-asked question about the future of Empire and Jussie Smollett’s status on the show, reports Decider.
Smollett was written out of the final two episodes of the drama’s fifth season after being charged with fabricating an alleged attack in January. Henson confirmed the actor is set to appear in the upcoming season, saying she has yet to hear anything different.
The panel further questioned the actress about the controversy surrounding her Empire co-star.
When asked whether she has spoken with him, Henson replied that she stays in constant contact with Smollett and said he is faring well in the intense media spotlight.
Empire has not yet been renewed by Fox, but the Oscar-nominated actress said the show’s writers were hard at work on material for future episodes.
“We’re all doing well. The show is doing well. We’re on hiatus right now. The writers are trying to figure out what the next season is gonna look like, what our story line is gonna be. They’re trying to drum up some really good, juicy stuff for you guys. So that’s where we are right now.”
On January 29, Smollett alleged he was the victim of a hate crime carried out by two individuals yelling out racist and homophobic slurs. Police pivoted the focus of their investigation to Smollett in February, claiming that he staged the attack. He was subsequently charged with filing a false police report and disorderly conduct. In a surprising development, the Cook County (Chicago) State’s attorney dropped all charges against Smollett on March 26.
After the actor was arrested and initially charged, Empire producers dropped the actor from the rest of the show’s fifth season. They released a statement explaining their decision to cut Smollett from the show.
Despite the “disturbing allegations,” the producers expressed their willingness to trust the legal system until the investigation reached its conclusion.
“We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and, to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of Jamal from the final two episodes of the season.”
Following the dismissal of charges, Fox released a statement saying it was “gratified” the charges against Smollett were cleared.
However, the actor’s legal woes are not quite over. According to a report by Decider, the city of Chicago has demanded Smollett pay over $130,000 to cover the cost of overtime hours in the investigation. If the money is not delivered in seven days, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has planned to file a civil suit where Smollett would face prosecution for “making a false statement to the city.”
If Smollett contests the suit the case will go to court where a judge will decide whether he is guilty of fabricating his attack and if he must pay mandatory restitution to the city of Chicago.