Weeks after deleting an Instagram video blasting the “racist” who supposedly attacked Jussie Smollett, Empire co-creator Lee Daniels is once again addressing the situation, saying it’s affecting the show’s cast.
“These past couple of weeks have been a freaking roller coaster,” Daniels said in a new video posted to Instagram Wednesday night before the latest episode of Empire aired. “Me and my cast have experienced pain and anger and sadness and frustration, and really don’t know how to deal with it you know?”
On the morning of Jan. 29, Smollett told Chicago police he was beaten, doused with a chemical and had a rope placed around his neck by two attackers yelling racist and homophobic slurs. The actor also claimed the attackers yelled “this is MAGA country,” referring to President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
Daniels said Wednesday — after brushing his teeth — that the night’s episode of Empire was filmed “prior to the incident.” He then attempted to distance the Fox series from any racial division the incident may have caused.
“This is not what the show was made for,” he added in the video. “The show was made to bring America together, to talk about the atrocities that are happening right now on the streets.”
On the day of the alleged attack, Daniels posted a video on Instagram — which has since been deleted — saying “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.”
But investigators now believe Smollett paid brothers Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo to help him stage the attack because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on Empire.
The actor has since been charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct, for allegedly lying to police.
Smollett pleaded not guilty to all 16 counts on March 14, and has maintained his innocence throughout the investigation.
Last month, the producers of Empire announced they were cutting the actor’s character, Jamal Lyon, from the remaining episodes of the current season.