‘Empire’ cast members call for Jussie Smollett to return for next season

(JTA) — The top cast members of “Empire” sent a letter to Fox Entertainment and Disney executives calling for Jussie Smollett to be brought back for the show’s next season, not that his legal problems are behind him.

Smollett was written out of the final two episodes of the show’s fifth season.

In early March, Smollett was indicted by a grand jury in Chicago on 16 felony counts related to making a false police report after he said he was the victim of a hate attack. He continues to assert his innocence.

Smollett told police that two men “gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him” before attacking, pouring an “unknown chemical substance” on him and wrapping a rope around his neck. The assailants said “This is MAGA country” as they fled, he also told police.

Two weeks later, the criminal charges were dropped, the case was sealed and Smollett’s record expunged. The Chicago Prosecutor’s Office noted that Smollett had performed community service and forfeited his $100,000 bond.

“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. Throughout Empire’s five seasons working with Jussie and watching how he has conducted himself throughout this traumatic event, we have come to know not just the character Jussie portrays, but also truly come to know Jussie’s personal character. He is kind. He is compassionate. He is honest and above all he is filled with integrity,” the letter said, according to the Deadline entertainment website.

On Wednesday night, Smollett’s character, gay musician Jamal Lyon, married his boyfriend Kai and left on his honeymoon, for his last appearance of the season.

Smollett was born to a Jewish father and African-American mother.

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