Taraji P. Henson says co-star Jussie Smollett will return to 'Empire'
Empire star Taraji P Henson says that her co-star Jussie Smollett will return for filming of the show.
Smollett, 36, has been embroiled in a criminal case over an alleged hate crime the actor suffered, which over time has been accused of being made up, with 16 felony counts against Smollett opened before the charges were suddenly dropped.
Henson appeared on The View to discuss mental health and pay equality, but conversation eventually drifted to Smollett, who said he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack.
When asked if Smollett was going to return to the show, Henson said: "Yes. I haven’t heard anything else." She added on The View: "I talk to Jussie all the time and he’s doing well. We’re all doing well. The show is doing well. We’re on hiatus right now."
Henson, who plays the mother of Smollett's character on Empire, has previously been supportive of the actor during the controversy, speaking to USA Today after the charges were dropped to say that she believed in him "all along".
"I'm happy that the truth has finally been set free, because I knew it all along. We're all happy for him, and thank God the truth prevailed," she said, revealing that it was easy to believe in him "because I know him and I know [Smollett's] track record."
"I'm not going to jump on clickbait just because someone says something derogatory about a person I know and love. I'm not easily swayed like that. Those little clickbait (reports) weren't enough to deter me from his immaculate track record.
"I know the type of activism this young man does in his community, I know that he's a giver – he's not an attention-seeker. When I know someone, there's nothing you can say to make me flip on them, and that's what we miss in this world. We need people that stand by us. Whatever happened to that? Why are we so easy to believe strangers over people we know?"
However, it seems that this case will continue to rumble on: according to ABC News, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson were both reportedly furious that Smollett escaped without prosecution. "This is without a doubt a whitewash of justice," said Emanuel, while Johnson made his feelings clear in a press conference following the news.
"I'm sure we all know what happened this morning. Do I think justice was served? No. What do I think justice is? I think this city is owed an apology.
"At the end of the day, it's Mr. Smollett who committed this hoax, period. I heard that they wanted their day in court with TV cameras so America could know the truth, and they chose to hide behind secrecy and broker a deal to circumvent the judicial system."
Empire has just finished filming its fifth season.