Supporters Rally Behind a Comeback for Actor Jussie Smollett on ‘Empire’ TV Series

April 25, 2019 Updated: April 25, 2019

Cast members from an American musical drama are demanding the return of controversial actor Jussie Smollet to the popular television series.

Several actors are demanding Fox Entertainment, Disney TV Studios, and ABC Entertainment among others bring Smollett back to the “Empire” TV show.

Academy Award Nominees Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, and other cast members co-signed a letter of solidarity obtained by Deadline Hollywood and asking Smollett to return to play Jamal Lyon for a sixth season of “Empire.”

“Together, as a united front, we stand with Jussie Smollett,” they said in the letter dated April 19 and addressed to Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier, Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment Chair Dana Walden, Fox Entertainment President Michael Thorn, “Empire” Co-creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, and executive producers.

“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 continued.

The letter was sent after Smollett recently faced 16 felony charges and potentially years in jail for allegedly staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself on Jan. 29. The actor forfeited a $10,000 bond and received credit for 20 hours of community service he recently served.

Daniels confirmed on “Good Day New York” he was “in discussions” about whether Smollett would return to the show.

Anonymous sources told Deadline there is very likely to be a sixth season of “Empire” and Fox would have to make a decision on whether to continue the TV series sometime in May. A number of high-level meetings are understood to be deciding whether Smollett will return to the show.

Many fans are uncertain whether they will see Smollett beyond the latest episode “Never Doubt I Love,” which shows the wedding between Jamal and Kai.

As it stands, there are already scripts for the two final episodes of the series’ fifth season due to ongoing uncertainty over Smollett’s legal situation and the potential public fallout if the matter changes for the worst, Deadline reported. Smollett could finish up as soon as late June.

There are growing concerns Disney’s recent $71.3 billion takeover offer for 20th Century Fox TV would result in Fox having a show that is owned by two separate companies with different views on Smollett.

“It is why now, more than ever, we must stand together as a family. A family is there for us in good times and bad. It can cut through the noise and confusion to understand that there is a person in the center of all this who deserves nothing more than to move forward with his life,” the letter said.

“We understand that this show is a business and that business matters to us as well. We are confident our fans will welcome our ‘Jamal’ back into the Empire family as enthusiastically as we will. That is why we write today to ask you to keep Jussie on the cast, so that we can all put this behind us and move forward … it’s our hope that together we will move into our sixth season as the entire Empire family should.”

Fox and Disney TV Studios had not commented on the cast letter at the time of publication.

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