In a recent rare interview, Jussie Smollett opened up about the fallout from being accused of orchestrating his own hate crime in Chicago.
While speaking to Sirius XM’s Sway Calloway on Wednesday, the former “Empire” star reflected on 2019, when he was arrested for filing a false police report claiming he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in an affluent neighborhood of Chicago.
Earlier this year, Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in prison in Chicago for orchestrating a hate crime. But the actor, director and musician, who has pleaded innocent, was released from prison shortly afterwards pending an appeal.
“The prison system needs to be dismantled,” Smollett said on Sway in the Morning.
“I know I didn’t do that. … This place is not destined for salvation. This place is not meant to make you come out any better than when you went in.”
The arrest was followed by a swift and violent backlash. Across the internet, people have been piling up on Smollett for allegedly wasting police time and resources for personal gain. But Smollett didn’t see the criticism until a year after his arrest, he told the radio program.
“When I say I was closed off from the world, I was closed off from the world,” he said. “My family took my cell phone. I didn’t have my phone. … I wasn’t allowed to go on social media.”
Smollett added that his loved ones protected him from negativity “in a really nice way” until one day he decided to google himself.
“Worst idea ever,” he said. “I really saw what it was and it was so painful because I was like, ‘Ooh, did he say that about me? Oh dear God. You said that?'”
After the alleged attack and before he was arrested, Smollett sat down to discuss the ordeal with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America – a bombastic interview he now regrets.
“I saw it and was embarrassed,” he told Calloway. “Every single word I said in that interview was the truth, but it had a certain level of performative nature because I didn’t want to be there. …
“I was so angry and offended that I had to go on national television and explain something that happened to me. And it was so political, and it was all those things, and I was coming to terms with my own internalized homophobia.”
Smollett appeared on Sway in the Morning to promote his newly released film B-Boy Blues on BET+. His directorial debut marks his first Hollywood project since he was fired from Empire following his 2019 arrest.
Several entertainment figures, including Smollett’s “Empire” co-star Taraji P. Henson, have protested the outcome of his Chicago trial, posting the hashtag #FreeJussie on social media.
“I’ve never felt healthier or more grateful,” said Smollett Calloway. “I’m getting off the idea of trying to convince or hoping people see the truth. … I really only go where the love is.”
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2022-06-23/jussie-smollett-sway-calloway-interview-b-boy-blues Jussie Smollett didn’t see ‘hoax’ backlash for a whole year