Jussie Smollett attends the New York premiere of Empire’s season 2 at Carnegie Hall on Sept. 12, 2015, in New York City.
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Jussie Smollett knows that things went off the rails a little bit in Empire, but he’s asking the show’s fan base to hang in there because things will come full circle at the end of the season.

“I understand the backlash,” Smollett said during an interview with Essence. He was referring to how the ratings took a dive after the season 2 premiere. “They have something to compare it to now. But this isn’t a show about happy endings. It’s messy and wild and emotional and complicated and f—ked up, but it’s worth the ride. It will pay off. Don’t stop watching.”

Smollett described how happy he is that people are so fond of his gay character, Jamal. He thinks that Jamal resonates with viewers because he’s an “underdog.”

“Everyone, no matter their age, race or sexual orientation, can relate to the underdog,” Smollett said. “Everyone has felt misunderstood and counted out—some of us more than others—but we all know that feeling, and that’s what Jamal represents.”

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Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.

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