Amid the enormous controversy surrounding the alleged hate crime against Empire actor Jussie Smollett, many have been asking for the actor to be fired from the series, and now Fox has made a move.
After Smollett was arrested and charged with filing a false report and reportedly staging the attack against him, it has now been confirmed that while he has not been fired from the series, his character Jamal Lyon has been removed from the final two episodes of season five.
“The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us,” said Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer. “Jussie has been an important member of our EMPIRE family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.”
As previously reported, after Smollett’s arrest, Chicago Police stated that Smollett had paid $3500 to stage the “bogus” attack against him in order to draw attention to himself because he was reportedly unhappy with his salary.
Despite the mounting evidence against him, the actor has maintained his innocence. “Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system,” the statement from Smollett’s legal team began. “The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election. Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”