'Empire' Creator Lee Daniels on 'Pain, Anger, Sadness and Frustration' Amid Jussie Smollett Scandal

'Empire' Creator Lee Daniels on 'Pain, Anger, Sadness and Frustration' Amid Jussie Smollett Scandal

March 21, 2019

In an Instagram video, Daniels never mentions Smollett by name and only refers to the allegations that he faked a hate crime as “the incident.”

Clearly the ongoing Jussie Smollett scandal is weighing heavily on Lee Daniels, as the "Empire" creator and showrunner took to Instagram in the middle of brushing his teeth Wednesday night to again address it.

His message was shared a few hours before the latest episode of his hit Fox series aired. As these are still episodes that were filmed prior to the scandal, Smollett’s character features prominently in the ongoing storylines. He has reportedly been written out of the final two episodes of the season.

"Oh my God, These past couple of weeks have been a freaking roller coaster," Daniels said. "Me and my cast have experienced pain and anger and sadness and frustration, and really don’t know how to deal with it, ya know?"

Through his video, Daniels never mentioned Smollett by name, nor did he specify the alleged hate crime Smollett is charged with having faked. Instead he simply said that these episodes were filmed "prior to the incident."

I was so in my feelings last week that I forgot to post about @empirefox & @staronfox …. I guess y’all know why ??… anyway I’m back and I’m finally ok!!!! ??????

A post shared by Lee Daniels (@theoriginalbigdaddy) on

The part that appears to hurt Daniels so much is that the scandal is so much not what "Empire" is supposed to be about as a show. "This is not what the show was made for," he said. "This show was made to bring America together to talk about the atrocities that are happening right now in the streets."

It’s a show with strong messages and stories about race and racism and race relations in this country. And yet, while Daniels and his team are trying to shine a light on a harsh reality on the streets, it would be a slap in the face for someone on that team to allegedly fake the very kind of hate crimes he’s trying to illuminate.

Smollett turned himself in and was booked by Chicago PD on Feb. 21 under a felony charge for allegedly filing a false police report; following claims he made about being attacked by racist, homophobic, MAGA supporters. He was released on $100,000 bond. Chicago police are maintaining they believe Smollett orchestrated the attack with two Nigerian brothers, who he had also hired as his personal trainers.

Smollett pleaded not guilty on 16 felony counts before a grand jury in Chicago for allegedly making false statements to police in relation to the alleged Jan. 29 incident he claims was a racially-motivated attack. The allegations also state that Smollett faked the attack due to dissatisfaction with his salary. Smollett denies these charges and continues to maintain his innocence.

In the immediate wake of the allegations against Smollett, the show put out a statement. "The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us," it began. "Jussie has been an important member of our Empire family for the past five years and we care about him deeply.

"While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of Jamal from the final two episodes of the season."

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