In a wide-ranging interview with the Yahoo News show “Through Her Eyes,” the award-winner singer/actress says she will support the “Empire” star until conclusive evidence to support claims from law enforcement that he staged an attack on himself convinces her otherwise.
“The guy I’ve seen has always been someone who cares about people, who cares about others, and who’s very kind and who’s always been cool and sweet. And that’s just the guy I know,” Latifah said. “So until I can see some definitive proof – which I haven’t seen yet – then, you know, I gotta go with him until I see otherwise.”
Last month, Smollett was hit with a felony charge of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report in January after claiming he was attacked by two masked men who shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him.
Chicago police initially called it a possible hate crime, but now say that Jussie hired two Nigerian-American brothers to help him stage the assault as part of an elaborate publicity stunt because he’s allegedly disgruntled about his “Empire” salary.
He’s is out on $100,000 bond, and is due back in court March 14. In the meantime, Smollett has been suspended from the hit Fox show.
Smollett insists he did not stage the attack.
As we previously reported, GMA’s Robin Roberts has opened up about her headline-making sit-down with Jussie and acknowledged that she felt the pressure to represent the LGBT community.
“I’m a black gay woman, he’s a black gay man,” Roberts said during her solo panel at The Cut’s “How I Get It Done” event on Monday. “He’s saying that there’s a hate crime, so if I’m too hard, then my LGBT community is going to say, ‘You don’t believe a brother,’ if I’m too light on him, it’s like, ‘Oh, because you are in the community, you’re giving him a pass.’”
“It was a no-win situation for me,” she explained.
Days after the interviewed aired, two the Nigerian brothers came forward and reportedly told investigators that they were paid by the actor to stage the attack.
“People are looking at the interview through the eyes of ‘How did you not know?’” Roberts recalled. “I did the interview 48 hours before then. Had I had that information or [knew] what the brothers were alleging, heck yeah, I would have asked him about that.”
“I pride myself in being fair, I know how much work went into being balanced about what had happened and to challenge him on certain things,” she said.