Lee Daniels on Jussie Smollet attack: ‘America is better than that’


Empire star Jussie Smollet was attacked in Chicago earlier today in a suspected hate crime. Creator Lee Daniels shares an emotional reaction.

Jussie Smollett, a lead actor on FOX’s Empire, was brutally attacked and beaten in Chicago early Tuesday morning by two men yelling racial and homophobic slurs. The Chicago Police Department released a statement on the attack, noting it is currently being treated as a “possible hate crime.”

Smollett’s two attackers not only yelled racial and homophobic comments at him and beat him, but they reportedly used an unknown chemical substance on him, slipped a noose around his neck, and then yelled “MAGA country” before running off. Chicago police are trying to track down any and all footage that will help identify these two men.

TMZ reports that Empire staff held an emergency meeting this morning on the show’s Chicago set to explain what happened to Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon on the show. The cast and crew were reportedly and understandably “extremely upset” to hear the news.

Lee Daniels, co-creator of Empire, offered up his condolences to Smollett in an Instagram post, and really highlighted what is wrong about this country.

Below is Daniels’ statement, shared via Instagram.

"It’s taken me a minute to come to social media about this because, Jussie, you are my son. You didn’t deserve (nor anybody deserves) to have a noose put around your neck, to have bleach thrown on you, to be called ‘die f—, n— or whatever they said to you. You are better than that. We are better than that. America is better than that. It starts at home. It starts at home, yo. We have to love each other, regardless of what sexual orientation we are, because it shows we are united on a united front and no racist f— can come in and do the things that they did to you. Hold your head up, Jussie. I’m with you. I’ll be there in a minute. It’s just another f— day in America."

The official Twitter accounts for Empire‘s writers’ room and the show itself took to social media to express shared emotions of sadness and anger.

Plenty of actors and celebrities have spoken out about the hate crime, making it known to all that so many are united against the ones spreading the hate.

It comforts us here at Culturess to know the amount of people who are sending Smollett love and prayers. Still, it is difficult to fathom we are still dealing with such hatred in a country that preaches freedom and peace.

Nobody deserves to be treated like this, especially someone who acts as a champion for minority characters on television. This is not what makes America great.

Everyone here at Culturess is sending their love to Smollett and his family as well, and we support the energy behind #JusticeforJussie. We know that love will always trump hate, and as Daniels said, America is better than that.