Who Is Jussie Smollett? New Details About The 'Empire' Star Attacked In An Apparent Hate Crime

It's not the first time he's been a victim of homophobic or racially charged acts.

Who Is Jussie Smollett? New Details About The 'Empire' Star Attacked In An Apparent Hate Crime Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com

"Empire" star Jussie Smollett was attacked in Chicago on Tuesday in what police are calling a possible hate crime.

Smollett, 35, was walking home around 2 a.m. when two unidentified men approached him, "yelling out racial and homophobic slurs," the Chicago Police Department said in a statement. The attackers "poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim" as “one of the offenders wrapped a rope around” Smollett's neck before fleeing the scene, according to police.


“The Chicago Police Department received a report of a possible racially charged assault and battery involving a cast member of the television show ‘Empire,’” the department said in a statement. “Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime.”


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The openly gay actor took himself to Northwestern Hospital following the attack and "is in good condition," CNN reports. No arrests have been made and Chicago PD said it has no suspects. A dozen detectives and the FBI are working the case to identify Smollett's attackers.

Anyone with who has information or witnessed the attack is asked to call detectives at (312) 747-8382 or submit an anonymous tip at cpdtip.com.

So who is Jussie Smollett? 

1. He has starred on “Empire” since 2015.



Smollett has played the role of Jamal Lyon, the openly gay singer and son of a music mogul couple, on Fox’s “Empire” since 2015.

He has also recently appeared in movies “Alien: Covenant” and “Marshall,” and TV series “Star” and “Underground.”

2. He has gotten a lot of support from Hollywood.

Since his attack, dozens of celebrities have shown their support for Smollett. Among his many supporters are his fellow cast members, multiple activist groups, and celebs, including Stever Harvey, Kevin Hart, Ariana Grande, John Legend, Zendaya, and many, many more. Senator Cory Booker called the attack “an attempted modern-day lynching.”


20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment released a statement Tuesday regarding the attack.

“We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our Empire family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night," the statement reads. "We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice. The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face or any despicable act of violence and hatred — and especially against one of our own.”

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3. He publicly addressed his sexuality in 2015.


Although he has never considered himself to be in the closet, Smollett first spoke about being gay in 2015 on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

“There’s never been a closet that I’ve been in,” he said, adding that his decision not to speak about his personal life is not an attempt to “hide or deny who God made me. There is, without a doubt, no closet that I’ve ever been in and I just wanted to make that clear.”

4. He is an activist.

Smollett is a very active AIDS/HIV preventions activist. He is a board member of the Black AIDS Institute and gave a portion of the profits of one of his albums to the organization. He is also a voice for the LGBTQ community. Smollett teamed up with the Trevor Project for its "How to Save a Life" campaign to encourage others to become involved in supporting LGBTQ youth and has often been associated with the Human Rights Group. 


GLAAD, an organization dedicated to using media to accel LGBTQ acceptance, stands by the actor during this tough time.

“Jussie is a true champion for LGBTQ people and is beloved by the community and allies around the world,” reads a statement from the organization obtained by the Hollywood Reporter.

5. He is a singer.


Smollett released his 10-track debut album Sum of My Music in March 2018. The songs on his first solo album address his struggles with insecurities, jealousy, and his sexuality. 

6. This is not the first time he’s been the victim of a hate crime.



The FBI is investigating a letter that was sent to Fox and “Empire” offices on Jan. 22. The letter used “threatening language” toward Smollett and was laced with a white powdery substance, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

"Jussie Smollet You will die black f*g,” the letter reportedly read. It has not been linked to the Tuesday attack.

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Sarah Gangraw writes about all things news, entertainment and crime. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.