Terrence Howard is speaking out about his former Empire co-star Jussie Smollett being convicted of staging a hate crime.
“It’s interesting, it’s an uncomfortable question because anyone that’s aware of the show or my relationship with Jussie would know that Jussie is, for six years, he was my son,” Howard explained in an interview on Mark Vargas’ Mark My Words radio show. “He was my son that I had the most difficulty with on that show as far as the character world goes. So you end up getting very close to individuals that you have the most struggle with. Whose characters you have the most struggle with.”
Last week, Smollett was found guilty on five felony counts of disorderly conduct for making false police reports after he staged a hate crime attack against himself in Chicago in January 2019.
“They judged him and found him guilty, 12 of them that judged from a completely unbiased position… you have to respect that,” Howard continued.
“If they had gotten away with it, whoever orchestrated it. Whatever was set up. If they got away with it, then we would have the potential of Blacks feeling like they need to defend Black people against MAGA (Make America Great Again), and it could have turned into something very, very scary and very ugly,” he said. “People would have gotten hurt and killed and if that was the case, the blood on someone’s hands would have been massive.”
The disgraced actor said at the time of the alleged attack that two men yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him, kicked him, poured bleach on him, put a noose around his neck, and told him, “This is MAGA country.”
Smollett originally told police he was attacked by two white supremacists. He later claimed he was attacked by Nigerian brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo.
Smollett testified during his trial that after news of his hate-crime attack made headlines, he lost his livelihood due to the bad publicity. The actor was reportedly dropped by UTA and he hasn’t booked an acting gig in two years. As noted by THR, since the alleged attack, Smollett’s “prospects have drastically diminished,” the outlet writes.
Smollett faces up to three years in prison, though with no prior criminal record it’s far more likely he would receive a lighter sentence including possible probation.
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