Disgraced Empire actor Jussie Smollett stood by his claims of innocence and insisted he did not lie about his homophobic attack hoax.
Addressing his highly publicized and controversial trial and its aftermath on the Sway’s SiriusXM show, Smollett said he has never felt more sober, grateful and blessed.
The actor, who much like Amber Heard lost his case not only in the legal system but also in the court of public opinion, said his moral principles as a black gay man made him incapable of orchestrating the hoax.
‘If I had done this, I’d be a piece of s***. And I don’t think that’s really questionable,’ Smollett said in the episode, which was aired on his 40th birthday on Monday.
‘If I had done something like this, it would mean that I stuck my fist in the pain of black African Americans in this country for over 400 years.’
‘It would mean that I stuck my fist in the fears of the LGBTQ community all over the world. I am not that motherf*****. Never have been. Don’t need to be,’ he added.
With the benefit of hindsight, Smollett likened his March six-day prison stay at Cook County Jail to a cathartic opportunity he used to ‘reset and regain clarity’ by fasting.
Addressing his highly publicized and controversial trial and its aftermath on the Sway’s SiriusXM show, Smollett stood by his claims of innocence and insisted he did not lie about his hoax homophobic attack
‘My lawyer… he lied when he said I was fasting for lent. I was not fasting for lent. I was fasting because, that’s what we do in my family, we fast for clarity,’ he said.
His description of his time in jail is a stark contrast to his pleas at the time, when he asked to be released citing his COVID risks as an immunocompromised patient, and then claiming that his incarceration was taking a huge toll on his mental health.
Six days into his initial 150-day sentence, Smollett was released pending an appeal.
The actor has seemingly thrown himself into work following the scandal. He released a song in April and made his post-scandal directorial debut in May on BET+ with the film B-Boy Blues.
But his reappearance from disgrace was not welcomed by his detractors on social media, who questioned why he was given a platform to reverberate his already-debunked claims.
‘Dude go away. You lied and stop being delusional and just own up to your shit. The fact that y’all giving him a platform to speak is crazy. Them people ain’t just make that shit up. FOH,’ Twitter user @TreeHouse 9 wrote.
With the benefit of hindsight, Smollett likened his March six-day prison stay at Cook County Jail to a cathartic opportunity, a stark contrast to his pleas at the time, when he asked to be released citing his COVID risks as an immunocompromised patient, and then claiming that his incarceration was taking a huge toll on his mental health. Above, Smollett being released six days into his initial 150-day sentence
Another user also tweeted: ‘Don’t believe his lies. He is a horrible liar and a criminal for parading a forgery he wrote himself in front of congress.’
‘I will bet you $100. the ‘writer’ of the letter is never found. Handwriting is his. Check the writing before sticking up for a stunt hoax,’ they wrote in reference to a homophobic, racist letter Smollett claimed to have received.
User @Markitoz408 also complained that ‘moment we forget about Jussie Smollett he pops up again.’
Meanwhile, @windowtwonky compared the societal consequences of Smollett’s hoax to those of Amber Heard’s claims against her ex-husband Johnny Depp.
They wrote: ‘The case of Jussie Smollett stirred up a huge amount of racist rhetoric. He’s still a liar though. He wasn’t given a pass because of his race. The very same goes for Amber Heard. That she is being attacked by misogynists does not make her innocent.’
On Sway’s SiriusXM show, Smollett questioned the prosecution’s rationale for his motivations behind reporting the attack, arguing that the controversy had quite the opposite effect, tanking his already-peaking career in the entertainment industry.
‘[I] didn’t need some sort of ris[ing] in my career. I was on the up ad up. I was coming from New York from doing a table read from my dream role in a Broadway show,’ Smollett said.
‘I had just auctioned the rights to the authorized autobiography of Alvin Ailey.’
‘I had all of these things that I was creating. There would be no reason for me to do some dumb corny s*** like that, but people are going to believe what they [want to] believe,’ he added.
But his reappearance from disgrace was not welcomed by his detractors on social media, who questioned why he was given a platform to reverberate his already-debunked claims
‘Dude go away. You lied and stop being delusional and just own up to your shit. The fact that y’all giving him a platform to speak is crazy. Them people ain’t just make that shit up. FOH,’ Twitter user @TreeHouse 9 wrote
Twitter users compared the actor to Amber Heard, who also lost her case not only in the legal system but also in the court of public opinion
Meanwhile, @windowtwonky compared the societal consequences of Smollett’s hoax to those of Amber Heard’s claims against her ex-husband Johnny Depp
Another user also tweeted: ‘Don’t believe his lies. He is a horrible liar and a criminal for parading a forgery he wrote himself in front of congress’
User @Markitoz408 also complained that ‘moment we forget about Jussie Smollett he pops up again’
The 40-year-old actor said he regretted that his family had been subjected to unnecessary salaciousness and that the experience had been deeply taxing.
Smollett said enduring the alienation of the very public trial had made his internalized homophobia resurface.
‘I felt like I had just become a fa**** [who] got his ass beat, or at least that was what I thought people saw me as,’ he said.
Smollett said he felt compelled to be spoken about the assault, which was proved to be a hoax in court, because he wanted to help those who didn’t have the resources to stand up by themselves.
‘Do I feel better than anyone else who has been assaulted? Abso-f******-lutely no, but at the same time, I was just so embarrassed that it happened,’ he said.
Smollett said that while some of the things that transpired during the trial, such as his drug use, were true, but insisted that he did not pay the perpetrators to assault him in order to gain sympathy from the public.
Boasting about his career, he claimed he would have never purposely done anything to be characterized as a victim.
‘I am an actor, a director, a writer, a producer … If I were to do something, it would not be to look like a victim. It would be to look like, if anything, to look strong,’ he said.
Smollett was convicted in December of five counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police about being the victim of a racist, anti-gay attack he said was perpetrated by Trump supporters who screamed ‘this is MAGA country. Police said Smollett cut his own cheek to make it look like he had suffered injuries in the attack
Smollett also lashed out at public figures in the entertainment world who called him out for lying, saying they were acting out of fear.
‘For whatever reason, I thought people would be like, ”There is no way he did something like that,’ Smollett said.
‘ I do hold some people accountable … The people that do know me. F*** out of here. That’s some PR bulls***. And you know who you are. And I will not name names and I love everybody, but I don’t like that.’
But the disgraced actor, who is already working on new projects, said it will take more than public humiliation to stop him from following his dreams.
He made a comeback as director on the BET+ film B-Boy Blues, an adaptation of the James Earl Hardy 1991 novel.
Three weeks after being released from jail, Smollett also released his song Thank You God, which touches on his recent legal troubles.
‘Some people searching for fame / Some people chasing that clout / Just remember this … this ain’t that situation / You think I’m stupid enough to kill my reputation?’ the lyrics reads.
A close friend of Smollett told The New York Post in March that he was also eager to continue doing charity work.
‘Jussie was the first to volunteer, and got all sorts of medical and other supplies out to [the Haitian town of] Jacmel during the earthquake,’ Cleveland-based investor Tom Wilson told the outlet.
‘In 2018, he organized a tour of Europe and gave all of the proceeds to charity,’ he added.
‘What I have to do is, I have to keep working. And what I know for sure is every single thing that I auditioned for during that period, I lost. They took it from me,’ Smollett said on Sway’s SiriusXM show.
‘But every single thing that I created myself, it’s been created … Never again will anybody be able to pull my life from under me like a rug.’
Smollett was convicted in December of five counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police about being the victim of a racist, anti-gay attack he said was perpetrated by Trump supporters who screamed ‘this is MAGA country’.
He told Chicago police he had been accosted on a darkened street by two masked strangers.
According to his account of the attack, the assailants threw a noose around his neck and poured chemicals on him while yelling racist and homophobic slurs and expressing support for then-President Donald Trump.
The two assaulters were Nigerian brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo, who are black.
The brothers, who testified in court, told the jury Smollett hired them to fake the attack because he wanted to boost his celebrity profile.
Smollett later claimed that in the days before the stunt, when prosecutors claimed he and the brothers were rehearsing the attack, they were actually getting together to smoke marijuana.
Smollett shocked the court by claiming he ‘made out with’ and ‘masturbated’ with Abimbola Osundairo during a visit to a bathhouse.
Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundauro (left and right) testified in court that Smollett paid them to attack him. Smollett said he and Abimbola (left) had a sexual relationship in the past but that Ola (right) ‘creeped’ him out
The brothers said Smollett also sent himself this letter to the Fox studio where Empire is filmed a week before the attack
The actor told the jury that he thought the brothers staged the attack on him to try to scare him into thinking he needed bodyguards, and to give them the job.
In March, three months after a jury found him guilty of felony disorderly conduct, a judge sentenced the actor to 150 days in jail.
Smollett was six days into his sentence when an appeals court ordered his release from custody pending an appeal of his conviction and sentence.
The Osundairo brothers have since filed a defamation lawsuit, alleging that Smollett’s comments were part of an effort to portray them as racist, homophobic and violent men who truly attacked him.
In March, a Chicago judge ruled that an attorney for Smollett might have defamed the brothers when she suggested they had been wearing ‘whiteface.’