Jussie Smollett Makes His First Public Appearance After Apparent Hate Crime
"I will always stand for love."
Jussie Smollett made his first public appearance days after the Empire star was targeted in an apparent hate crime attack, declaring that he “couldn’t let those motherf—ers win.”
On Saturday, the actor, who was scheduled to perform at the Troubadour in Los Angeles before the attack, took the stage at the famed venue and addressed the terrifying incident.
“There are so many words on my heart that I want to say,” began a visibly emotional Smollett, 35. “The most important that I can say, to keep it simple, thank you so much. I’m okay… I’m not fully healed yet, but I’m going to. I’m going to stand strong with y’all.”
“I had to be here tonight,” added Smollett. “I couldn’t let those motherf—ers win. So I will always stand for love, I will never stand for anything other than that. Regardless of what anyone else says, I will only stand for love. I hope that you all stand with me.”
Smollett performed “Heavy” from Empire, which he said now “has a new meaning to me,” as his Empire “family” watched on from the audience.
“In times of trauma or hurt or grief, we still have a responsibility to lead with love,” the actor said. “If we don’t, then we just die inside, and we’ve got to f—ing live, ya’ll. The hateful rhetoric that gets thrown around — I’m not going to name no names, I don’t care to… it has to stop. But guess what — it stops with the people that believe in love.”
“We have literally only just begun,” Smollett continued. “I would not have been able to get through it without obviously my family, but also the love and support of all ya’ll. I don’t take it lightly… I’m so proud of myself.”
Smollett left the stage, but the crowd cheered for an encore. After returning to the spotlight, Smollett performed “Powerful” and took the time to clarify reports about the apparent hate crime.
“Just because there has been a lot of stuff that has been said about me that is absolutely not true,” said Smollett. “There are just a couple of points that I wanted to make really quick… I was bruised, but my ribs were not cracked. I went to the doctor immediately — I was not hospitalized. Both my doctors in L.A. and Chicago cleared me to perform but said to take it easy, obviously. And, above all, I fought the f— back.”
Earlier in the night, Smollett’s siblings appeared on stage to support their brother.
“If I’m honest, as his big brother, I wanted Jussie to sit this one out,” said Joel Smollett Jr. “I sincerely wanted him to stay out of the public until he heals. Then, after much debate, some arguing and many tears, my family and I realized that tonight is an important part of Jussie’s healing.”
“He’s been a fighter since he was a baby,” Joel Jr. continued. “He fought his attackers that night and he continues to fight. Jussie is a true artist every time he breathes, but above all else, he is the epitome of love.”
The star was allegedly attacked by two black-clad, masked men in Chicago’s Streeterville section near his home on Tuesday. Smollett was treated at Northwestern Hospital.
On Friday, Smollett spoke out for the first time about the incident, telling Essence in a statement: “Let me start by saying that I’m OK. My body is strong but my soul is stronger. More importantly I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words.”
“I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level,” he continued. “Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served. As my family stated, these types of cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers and non-gender conforming siblings daily. I am not and should not be looked upon as an isolated incident. We will talk soon and I will address all details of this horrific incident, but I need a moment to process. Most importantly, during times of trauma, grief and pain, there is still a responsibility to lead with love. It’s all I know. And that can’t be kicked out of me. With love, respect & honor…Jussie.”
At around 2 a.m. in Chicago on Tuesday, Smollett transported himself to the hospital after he was the victim of an apparent hate crime.
The Chicago Police Department previously confirmed in a statement that a member of the hit Fox show was involved in a “racially-charged assault and battery.”
“Two unknown offenders approached him and gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him,” continued the statement. “The offenders began to batter the victim with their hands about the face and poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim. At some point during the incident, one of the offenders wrapped a rope around the victim’s neck. The offenders fled the scene.”
On Thursday, Smollett’s family released a statement about the attack.
“We want to be clear, this was a racial and homophobic hate crime. Jussie has told the police everything from the very beginning. His story has never changed, and we are hopeful they will find these men and bring them to justice,” they said. “Our family thanks everyone for their prayers and the huge amount of love he has received. We are thankful to our village for your immense support during this trying time. We are so grateful that God saw him through this cowardly attack alive. Jussie is a warrior whose light cannot be dimmed.”
In a statement, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said: “We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our EMPIRE family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night. 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.”
The Fox show’s creator, Lee Daniels, also spoke out about the incident, calling the actor his “son” and saying, “It’s just another f—ing day in America.”
On Wednesday, Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi released an update on the case, revealing that investigators have acquired footage that could lead to the arrests of the Empire actor’s assailants. The police also released two photos of the persons of interest. However, the images did not show the individuals’ faces.
This Story Originally Appeared On People