Cast members including Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard wrote a letter to urge Fox and Disney execs to keep him on the show.
“Together, as a united front, we stand with Jussie Smollett and ask that our co-star, brother and friend be brought back for our sixth season of Empire,” the letter reads.
In February, Empire’s producers released a statement that said Smollett would be written out of the show’s final two episodes after being accused of staging a hate crime in January.
“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,” the statement read. “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.”
While all charges have been dropped against the star, his legal troubles haven’t ended. This week, the two brothers who claimed Smollett hired them to stage an attack against the actor sued Smollett’s lawyers for defamation.
"We have sat back and watched lie after lie being fabricated about us in the media only so one big lie can continue to have life," they said. "These lies are destroying our character and reputation in our personal and professional lives."
Empire’s creator, Lee Daniels, stood behind the star Wednesday, and told Extra that he considers Smollett to be “his son.”
"I think that what I'm learning right now is that I can't judge," Daniels said. "I can only support him because he is like my son, he is my son, and so I'm with him. So I can only support him and I can only give him compassion."
Daniels also emphasized that the last three months have had a profound impact on the cast and crew of the series.
"The cast is upset. It is a sad time, and we are slowly healing," Daniels said.
While the Empire cast wants Smollett back on the show, fans remain divided on the issue and took to Twitter to express their opinions.
@JussieSmollett He should be fired I hate to sound like a broken record but I have lost friends to #LGBTQ hate crimes . It is no laughing matter keep him off the show and I will watch keep him on the show I will not #JussieSmollett #Empire #DEMS #GOP #FOX ‼️— BLKGayProudDem (@BLKGayProudDem) April 25, 2019
IMPORTANT‼️‼️— Debbie Mitchell (@Sweetp10000) April 25, 2019
Click the link https://t.co/OHYtBCbpdB sign the petition asking the executives to bring Jussie back for the next season of Empire.
🗣Share the link everywhere#StandWithJussie #NoJussieNoEmpire#JussieSmollett #Empire #EmpireFox
I stopped watching. Jussie doesn’t deserve to be there. He is guilty of a Hate Crime. WTF Fox. Have some respect for real victims. Was Jussie prepared to point at two white men and say.. yes, they attacked me. Boycott #Empire— Chris (@ChrisSchlaller) April 25, 2019
While Smollett’s future on the show remains uncertain, his character Jamal Lyon did get his happily ever after by finally marrying his boyfriend, Kai. Now it’s up to the powers that be to decide if we’ll get to see what’s in store for Jamal and Kai next season.
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