Jussie Smollett Gives Rare Interview About Alleged Attack (Video)

Jussie Smollett (Credit: Deposit Photos)

In his first interview in nearly 18 months, Jussie Smollett is speaking out about his alleged hate crime attack. The former Empire star’s last major public interview was with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America in early 2019.

This week, the actor spoke with author and activist Marc Lamont Hill. In the interview posted to Hill’s Instagram account Wednesday, Smollett discussed his ongoing legal issues stemming from the 2019 incident in Chicago.

While he would not discuss the specifics of his legal case due to advice from his lawyers, he said he’s worried staying quiet has done him more harm than good.

“It’s been beyond frustrating because to be somebody that’s so outspoken … it’s been difficult to be so quiet. To not be able to say all of the things that you want to say, to not be able to yell from the rooftop,” he shared.

“Because, I don’t think people realize that I’ve just been wrapped up in some form of a case for the last, approaching, in just a couple of months, approaching two years,” he continued. “It’s been beyond frustrating. I’m certainly not going rogue. I’m still taking the advice of my attorneys and everything like that. But I just don’t see honestly what staying quiet has really done. Where it has gotten me.”

Related Story: Jussie Smollett Indicted by Special Prosecutor for Alleged Attack

On Jan. 29, 2019, Smollett said he was attacked in Chicago on his way to get food. The actor told officers two assailants wearing ski masks assaulted him while yelling “this is MAGA country,” along with homophobic and racial slurs.

In the weeks that followed, the Empire star was accused of fabricating the claims — and paying two friends to beat him up — leading to prosecutors charging him with 16 felony counts for allegedly lying to police.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office dropped all 16 charges in March 2019. But amid controversy over the handling of the case, special prosecutor Dan Webb was later appointed by a judge to review the matter. In February 2020, a grand jury returned a six-count indictment charging Smollett with “making four separate false reports to Chicago Police Department officers related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime.”

Smollett pleaded not guilty to the charges. In his new interview, the actor said he believes he will prevail in court.

“They won’t let this go. It doesn’t matter. There is an example being made,” he explained. “And the sad thing is that there’s an example being made of someone that did not do what they’re being accused of.”

Smollett has maintained his innocence since the alleged incident occurred. Hill asked him if he has a message for the people who believe the incident was a hoax.

To that, Smollett replied: “I’m a human being like everybody else. I ingest the media and I read the headlines and all that type of stuff. And I’ve been guilty of taking things at face value as well. But when you see that happening, and they are talking about you. You know it’s not true. Somehow it becomes different.”