The cast of Empire is demanding that Jussie Smollett is allowed to return to the show for Season 6.
Empire stars Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Bryshere Y. Gray, Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe and Nicole Ari Parker released a letter on Wednesday (April 24) calling for the embattled actor to return to the drama, after creator Lee Daniels admitted that Smollett’s future is still up in the air ahead of the show’s sixth season.
Daniels said that controversy around Jussie Smollett is “causing a dilemma” for the show’s upcoming sixth season, adding: “We are in discussions about that right now.”
Cast demands ‘entire Empire family’ returns for sixth season
However, the cast members wrote: “Throughout Empire’s five seasons working with Jussie and watching how he has conducted himself throughout this traumatic event, we have come to know not just the character Jussie portrays, but also truly come to know Jussie’s personal character.
“He is kind. He is compassionate. He is honest and above all he is filled with integrity. He is also innocent and no longer subject to legal uncertainty with the criminal charges against him having been dropped. We are confident in his lawyer’s assurance that the case was dismissed because it would not have prevailed.”
They added: “Now, more than ever, we must stand together as a family.
“A family is there for us in good times and bad. It can cut through the noise and confusion to understand that there is a person in the center of all this who deserves nothing more than to move forward with his life.
“We understand that this show is a business. And that business matters to us as well. We are confident our fans will welcome our ‘Jamal’ back into the Empire family as enthusiastically as we will.
“That is why we write today to ask you to keep Jussie on the cast so that we can all put this behind us and move forward.
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“Thank you for taking time to hear us. It’s our hope that together we will move into our sixth season as the entire Empire family should.”
Smollett’s potential last scenes on Empire aired on Wednesday, with the actor abruptly written out of the show after he was accused of faking a hate crime attack on himself.
The actor 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.
Empire stars praise Jussie Smollett’s work for LGBT+ community
The cast also noted Jussie Smollett’s work in the LGBT+ community.
They wrote: “Jussie has shown us on and off the set who he really is as a leader. In addition to being a caring friend and cast member who treats every crew member with love and respect, he has spent time with our families and individually supported each of us.
“Just a few months ago, Jussie partnered with the Trevor Project to provide support to their volunteer program that allows LGBTQ youth in crisis access to vital counseling services.
“Prior to that, he gave every cent from his sold out world tour to numerous charities. He has adopted a school in Chicago, taught songwriting to incarcerated youth at the Cook County Jail last year and bought the family of Kayden Kinckle, a six-year-old, double amputee, a wheelchair accessible van due to his school district not having a wheelchair accessible school bus.
“He has traveled to South Africa for service as well as to Jamaica to quietly meet about the safety of LGBTQ youth. This was all done without posturing, the need for attention or even discussion.
“This is the Jussie we know.”