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Entertainment & Arts

Jussie Smollett thanks fans for ‘outpouring of love’ in first statement since attack

Jussie Smollett
“Empire” star Jussie Smollett spoke out Friday for the first time four days after he was attacked in what could be a hate crime.
(Richard Shotwell / Invision/Associated Press)

Four days after he was attacked in a possible hate crime, “Empire” star Jussie Smollett is addressing the incident and letting the “beautiful people” know he’s “OK.”

“My body is strong but my soul is stronger,” the 36-year-old entertainer said in a statement to The Times on Friday, thanking those who have rallied behind him.

“The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words,” he said.

From there, he reiterated his stance on the ongoing Chicago Police Department investigation, which has come into question in recent days over apparent inconsistencies in Smollett’s story and minimal surveillance evidence.

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“I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level,” he said. “Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.”

The vociferous LGBTQ activist also echoed his family’s Thursday statement, referring to “cowardly attacks” that “are happening to my sisters, brothers and non-gender conforming siblings daily.”

“I am not and should not be looked upon as an isolated incident. We will talk soon and I will address all details of this horrific incident but I need a moment to process. Most importantly, during times of trauma, grief and pain, there is still a responsibility to lead with love. It’s all I know. And that can’t be kicked out of me,” he concluded.

The actor-musician has kept a low profile since news broke Tuesday that he was hospitalized after the incident.

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Smollett, who is black and gay and plays an openly gay musician on the Fox musical drama, told police that two people approached him around 2 a.m. Tuesday and yelled racist and homophobic slurs while he was walking in an affluent downtown Chicago neighborhood. They then hit him in the face, poured an “unknown chemical substance” on him and, at some point, wrapped a rope around his neck, the police report said. A later police report said that the offenders made a reference to “MAGA” country during the alleged incident.

The FBI has also been involved in the case due to a threatening letter sent to the actor at Fox’s Chicago studios.

The actor has been out of the hospital and home recovering since Tuesday, his rep told The Times on Wednesday. He is expected to make his first public appearance on Saturday during a solo concert at the Troubadour in West Hollywood.

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Thursday that detectives had not yet recovered any surveillance video of the early Tuesday attack, but that Smollett’s apartment building’s security footage shows the actor arriving home wearing the rope minutes after he says it occurred, the Associated Press reported.

Authorities are currently seeking two people of interest in the case, which has sparked a cultural conversation about the inequities shouldered by queer people of color and other minority groups.

Here’s Smollett’s full statement:

Beautiful People,

Let me start by saying that I’m ok. My body is strong but my soul is stronger. More importantly I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words.

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I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level. Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served. As my family stated, these types of cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers and non-gender conforming siblings daily.

I am not and should not be looked upon as an isolated incident. We will talk soon and I will address all details of this horrific incident but I need a moment to process. Most importantly, during times of trauma, grief and pain, there is still a responsibility to lead with love. It’s all I know. And that can’t be kicked out of me.

With Love, respect & honor…

Jussie.

Follow me: @NardineSaad


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