Queen Latifah still believes Empire actor Jussie Smollett, questioning claims that he faked a hate crime attack.
Smollett is facing charges of filing a fake police report after alleging in January that he was the victim of a homophobic and racist attack.
The actor has maintained his innocence, but two associates of Smollett, who were previously suspects in the case, have accused him of perpetrating the attack on himself.
Queen Latifah: I’m going with Jussie ‘until I see definitive proof’
Speaking to Yahoo News show Through Her Eyes on Tuesday (March 5), former Empire guest star Queen Latifah said she is still giving Smollett the benefit of the doubt.
She said: “Until somebody can show me some proof otherwise, I’m going with him.
“The guy I’ve seen has always been someone who cares about people, who cares about others, and who’s very kind and who’s always been cool and sweet, and that’s just the guy I know.
“Until I can see some definitive proof, which I haven’t seen yet… then, you know, I gotta go with him until I see otherwise.”
Queen Latifah added: “I think you should always be aware of that. This whole thing started off by him allegedly being attacked. Everything that’s happened since then, who knows what it is?
“I don’t even know what to make of it. I hope everything works out in the end and everybody comes out unscathed.”
Jussie Smollett suspended from Empire over ‘disturbing’ claims
Smollett was suspended from Fox show Empire following his arrest on February 21.
In a statement reported by Entertainment Weekly on February 22, Empire‘s executive producers said that “to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.”
They called the charges against Smollett “very disturbing.”
Smollett could face up to three years in prison and $25,000 in fines if found guilty of arranging what Police Chief Eddie T. Johnson called a “hoax” in a press briefing on February 21.
Johnson said: “This announcement today recognises that Empire actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.”
The police chief, who is African-American himself, called Smollett’s behaviour “shameful,” adding: “I’m left hanging my head and asking, why?”
In a statement released on February 21 after his arrest, Smollett said he felt “betrayed” by authorities, and the actor has maintained his innocence.