Jussie Smollett has broken his silence on being the victim of an apparent racial and homophobic attack.
On Friday, three days after being hospitalized in Chicago, the Empire star made his first public comments. “Let me start by saying that I’m OK,” he said in a statement obtained by EW. “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.”
He continued by briefly touching on the investigation, with police currently looking for two persons of interest. “I am working with authorities and have been 100 percent factual and consistent on every level,” he insisted. “Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.”
Early Tuesday morning, Smollett, who is gay and plays a gay character on Empire, was walking in Chicago, where the series is filmed, when two alleged offenders approached him, reportedly yelling racial and homophobic slurs. According to a police report, the two unknown suspects attacked him, poured an unknown chemical substance on him, and wrapped a rope around his neck. The offenders, who Smollett claims yelled “this is MAGA country,” fled the scene; the actor and singer eventually transported himself to Northwestern Hospital and has since been discharged.
Smollett’s family, which includes his sister, Friday Night Lights star Jurnee Smollett-Bell, spoke out Thursday, condemning the “cowardly attack.” Smollett concluded his own statement: “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.”
President Donald Trump, Lee Daniels, Halle Berry, Barry Jenkins, and Ariana Grande are among those who have addressed the “horrible” incident.