The cast of Fox’s Empire is speaking out about the actor Jussie Smollett’s future work on the show.
According to TVLine, many cast members released an open letter that claimed they wanted Smollett back on the show next year for Season 6, showing their support for their co-star.
The letter was signed by actors Terrence Howard, who portrays Lucious Lyon on the show, Taraji P. Henson, who plays Cookie Lyon, as well as Jussie’s on screen brothers, Bryshere Y. Gray (Hakeem) and Trai Byers (Andre). Gabourey Sidibe (Becky) and Nicole Ari Parker (Giselle) also signed the letter of support, which was addressed to Disney Television Studios chairwoman Dana Walden and Fox Entertainment President Michael Thorn.
Empire creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong were also mentioned in the open letter.
“Together, as a united front, we stand with Jussie Smollett and ask that our co-star, brother and friend be brought back for our sixth season of Empire. It’s clearer every day that the extreme political climate in our country has only made our system of justice and the court of public opinion more unjust. It is why now, more than ever, we must stand together as a family… It’s our hope that together we will move into our sixth season as the entire Empire family should,” the letter reads.
According to a timeline of events by Time, Jussie Smollett made headlines earlier this year when he revealed he had been a victim of a hate crime. The actor claimed that two men had assaulted him, used racial and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him, and placed a rope around his neck.
Later, police claimed that Jussie was likely responsible for setting up the assault. Smollet was arrested shortly after.
Empire producers suspended the actor, and removed his character, Jamal, from the final two episodes of Season 5. Rumors about recasting the role also began to run wild, but there has been no official word on the fate of Smollett’s future with Empire— assuming the musical drama series is renewed for a sixth season.
Last month, all charges against Jussie were dropped, and many of his co-stars spoke out in joy over the news. In the letter from the cast, Smollett’s many charitable works, as well as his advocacy, is highlighted.
This week, Jussie Smollett’s final Season 5 episode of Empire will air, and fans are now wondering if the episode will be the last for the embattled actor.