For the first time since his reported homophobic and racist attack in January, Jussie Smollett is formally speaking out in a televised interview.
Smollett recounted the incident to Robin Roberts on Good Morning America Thursday morning, a night which started when his creative director (who is also “like [his] uncle”) Frank Gaston picked him up from the airport. Once they got to the apartment, Smollett decided to head to the nearby Walgreens and Subway. While on the phone with his manager, he suddenly heard someone behind him say, “Empire!” referring to the Fox show he stars in.
“And, I don’t answer to Empire, my name ain’t Empire!” Smollett chuckled, incredulously. Then, after not answering, the actor claims he heard, “Faggot, Empire, nigger!”
After turning around with a retort of “‘Fuck you just say to me?”, that’s when Smollett says the attacker in the mask hurled, “This is MAGA country, nigger!” and punched him. Smollett offered a punch in return and the two scuffled. He cited “a second person involved” who started kicking him in his back— “then it just stopped.”
Smollett further noted he believes the images of two persons of interest that later surfaced on surveillance cameras are of the two men, based on his memory of the men’s stature and build.
Smollett also touched on the skepticism he’s received since the reports have surfaced, as skeptics have pointed out bits of his story that don’t necessarily add up for them. However, Smollett responded to any implications that his reports to the Chicago Police Department have been inconsistent or false.
The full statement from Smollett’s team, via Deadline, reads:
Jussie is the victim here, which has been stated by the Superintendent of Police. Jussie has voluntarily provided his phone records from within an hour of the attack and given multiple statements to police. Chicago PD has repeatedly informed us that they find Jussie’s account of what happened that night consistent and credible. Superintendent Johnson has been clear from day one that Jussie is a victim. We are continuing to work closely with the Chicago PD and remain confident that they will find Jussie’s attackers and bring them to justice.
Any redacted information was intended to protect the privacy of personal contacts or high-profile individuals not relevant to the attack.
Chicago Police have not told us that they are rejecting any records, nor have they expressed concerns about the records to us. Therefore, we don’t feel compelled to be bated into responding to uncorroborated press reports. We are dealing directly with the Chicago Police Department.
Like most of his supporters, it looks like the Empire star believes the pushback is simply due to their refusal to acknowledge the very real homophobia and racism occurring in today’s society.
“It’s not just that you don’t want to believe the truth, you don’t even want to see the truth,” uttered the 36-year-old actor-singer.