Queen Latifah Is Standing By Jussie Smollett, ‘To Me He’s Innocent Until Proven Guilty’

Queen Latifah calls Jussie Smollett 'cool' and 'sweet'.

Queen Latifah speaks on stage.
Nicholas Hunt / Getty Images

Queen Latifah calls Jussie Smollett 'cool' and 'sweet'.

Empire actor Jussie Smollett is one of the most controversial figures in pop culture right now due to the stir he caused in the early part of 2019. The actor previously claimed that he’d been the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime while walking alone in downtown Chicago. While much of the nation initially offered him their support, the tide quickly turned when rumors began to swirl that his story might not be all the way truthful. Before long he was smacked with 16 felony charges of disorderly conduct. In a strange turn of events, the charges against him were suddenly dropped, allowing him to go free without jail time. Nevertheless, people are pretty divided on whether or not he is truly innocent, according to Hot New Hip Hop.

Whether or not Smollett will return to Empire for the next season is yet to be announced. In the last episode, Smollett’s character Jamal Lyon got married and took off for his honeymoon. Some fans believe this scene was meant to signify his departure from the show altogether. After all, the show’s ratings took a very serious hit after the scandal, with many still questioning his innocence. However, his Empire cast mates have reportedly said they would still welcome him back with open arms.

Queen Latifah, who has been vocal about her support of Smollett in the past, was asked whether she believed the actor should be allowed to return to the show. She stated that unless he is proven guilty in a court of law, she will continue to stand by him.

“I really don’t have an opinion. I never really had an opinion on whether it was true, whether it was not true. My only opinion was that people are innocent until proven guilty. That’s just the law in our country. So, you know…prove him guilty if that’s what you feel. But if not then…to me he’s innocent until proven guilty, that’s just how I feel about it.”

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Latifah went on to say that the version of Smollett she has gotten to know in the past is not a bad person, but rather someone who cared about those around him.

“The guy I’ve seen has always been someone who cares about people, who cares about others, and who’s very kind and who’s always been cool and sweet. And that’s just the guy I know. So until I can see some definitive proof — which I haven’t seen yet — then, you know, I gotta go with him until I see otherwise.”