Empire airs same-sex wedding as Jussie Smollett’s future remains unclear
The latest episode of Empire sees Jussie Smollett’s character Jamal getting married, but it’s unclear if he will be back on the show.
The April 24 episode, titled “Never Doubt I Love,” will see Jamal tie the knot to boyfriend Kai Givens, played by Toby Onwumere.
The wedding, which Essence describes as a “first wedding of a black, gay couple during primetime on a major broadcast network,” is the culmination of the character’s years-long plot arc on the show, but it may also serve as the character’s unintentional swansong.
Jussie Smollett future on Empire is up in the air
The episode is the last of the show’s fifth season to star Smollett, who was suspended partway through filming after he was accused of faking a hate crime attack on himself.
Smollett continues to maintain his innocence, and the criminal charges against him were dropped in March, but he is now facing a civil lawsuit from the city of Chicago to reclaim the cost of the police investigation.
Speaking on Good Day New York, Empire creator Lee Daniels said that it was still up in the air whether Smollett would be allowed to return for the show’s sixth season, given the controversy and increased insurance premium now attached to the star.
He said: “It’s causing a dilemma, and we are in discussions about that right now.”
Asked whether he believes Smollett, Daniels said: “There are only two judges. God and that man that wears the robe. And I cannot judge. I can only have compassion.”
He added: “If he is guilty, than I am worried about his mental health.”
However, Empire star Taraji P Henson, who plays the mother of Smollett’s character, previously said he is expected to return.
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She told The View on April 4: “I talk to Jussie all the time, he’s doing well. Yeah, we’re all doing well, the show is doing well, we’re on hiatus right now, the writers are trying to figure out what the next season is going to look like; what our storyline is going to be.”
Empire Same-sex wedding episode features Chaka Khan
Music legend Chaka Khan is set to appear in the episode as a wedding singer.
In a behind-the-scenes clip debuted on Essence, she said: “Today’s wedding is special and controversial, but my answer to all that is just love is love.”
A previous clip suggests that not all is well at the wedding, however, as Jamal’s dad Lucious (Terrence Howard) does not arrive in time to walk him down the aisle.
Jamal says: “I’m angry. I’m not some little boy that he threw in the trash. I’m a grown man. And I’m pissed off; I’m mad and I’m disappointed at the fact that he’s not the man that I thought he was.”