Lee Daniels Speaks Out About ‘Empire’

Andie Manahan

March 22, 2019

Empire creator Lee Daniels has gone on Instagram to seemingly address the Jussie Smollett “incident.”


Last week, Empire returned to the small screen for their mid-season Spring premiere. Their first episode, since the whole Jussie Smollett case started, has sparked mixed reactions from audiences.


A few hours before the second episode aired on Wednesday (March 20), the show’s creator went on Instagram to say a few words. And, although he did not mention any names, Lee seemingly addressed Jussie’s allegedly faked attack and subsequent arrest and indictment.


“These past couple of weeks have been a freakin’ roller coaster,” Lee began in the video.


“Me and my cast have experienced pain, anger, sadness and frustration,” he continued. “And [we] really don’t know how to deal with it, ya know?”


“’Cause it happened – everything has happened, what you’re seeing tonight – prior to the incident,” he said. “And this is not what the show is made for. The show was made to bring America together, to talk about the atrocities that are happening right now in the streets.”


He posted a note along with the video to explain his absence. “I was so in my feelings last week that I forgot to post about @empirefox & @staronfox …. I guess y’all know why 👀👀… anyway I’m back and I’m finally ok!!!! 👊🏿🇺🇸👊🏿.”


Jussie was charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report claiming he was attacked in a hate crime on the streets of Chicago early morning on January 29. The Empire actor was arrested on February 21.


He was released after posting $10,000 of his $100,000 bond.


It is said that the police now believe Jussie orchestrated the attack to further his career and get a salary raise.


It is also said that prior to the alleged attack, Jussie sent himself a threatening letter.


Throughout all of this, Jussie has maintained that he is a victim and innocent of all allegations against him. The 36-year-old actor plead not guilty to 16 counts of disorderly conduct stemming from the alleged hoax.


Lee also live tweeted about Wednesday night’s episode of Empire, but avoided mentioning scenes with Jussie’s character, Jamal Lyons.


It was previously announced that Jussie will not be appearing in this season’s final two episodes, but he continues to play Jamal Lyon in the episodes prior. The announcement was made via a joint statement with Empire co-creator Brett Mahoney and executive producers Danny Strong, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer.


“The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. 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,” the statement read.


“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,” the statement continued.