The team behind Fox drama Empire has expressed anger over the possible racially-motivated and homophobic attack Tuesday morning on actor Jussie Smollett.
Empire co-creator Lee Daniels posted a video on Instagram offering Smollett words of encouragement.
“You didn’t deserve, nor anybody deserves to have a noose put around your neck, to have bleach thrown on you, to be told die fag-ot, ni–er, or whatever they said to you,” the visibly shaken television executive said. “You are better than that. We are better than that. America is better than that.”
He continued: “It starts at home. We have to love each other, regardless of what sexual orientation we are, because it shows that we are united, on a united front, and no racist fu– can come in and do the things that they did to you. Hold your head up Jussie. I’m with you, I’ll be there in a minute. It’s just another fuc–ing day in America.”
View this post on Instagram
Earlier Tuesday, the Chicago Police Department told Urban Hollywood 411 Smollett was walking down the street when “two unknown offenders approached him and gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him.”
The suspects beat the actor, doused him with a chemical and “wrapped a rope around” Smollett’s neck, police said. The offenders fled the scene and the actor “self-transported” to Northwestern Hospital, where he is in good condition.
Empire‘s other creator, Danny Strong, took to Twitter to express his horror over the attack.
“I’m deeply horrified and saddened by the racist and homophobic attacks against Jussie Smollett. He is a kind and profoundly talented soul whom I respect with all my heart. The terror of racism and homophobia has no place in our society, it is the most indecent way to live,” Strong wrote.
I’m deeply horrified and saddened by the racist and homophobic attacks against @JussieSmollett. He is a kind and profoundly talented soul whom I respect with all my heart. The terror of racism and homophobia has no place in our society, it is the most indecent way to live…
— Danny Strong (@Dannystrong) January 29, 2019
Fox, which airs the series, released a statement saying it is “saddened” and will work with police to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our EMPIRE family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night. We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice,” 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said in a statement to the media. “The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate — and especially against one of our own.”
LGBTQ rights group GLAAD also expressed support for the Empire actor.
“Our hearts are with Jussie Smollett as he recovers from a hate-motivated and repugnant attack in Chicago,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement to Urban Hollywood 411. “Jussie has always used his voice and talent to create a better world, and it is disgusting that anyone, especially someone who has done such good for so many, would be targeted by undeniable hatred.”
Police say Smollett is fully cooperating, and investigators are asking the public to come forward with information about the incident. Tips can be reported to Area Central Detectives at 312-747-8382 or report it anonymously to www.cpdtip.com.
According to That Grape Juice, which first reported the incident, the openly gay, African-American actor received a threatening letter days before the attack that said, “You will die black f-g.”