Jussie Smollett Appeared in More Than Just ‘Empire’: Where Else Have You Seen the Hunky Star?

Jussie Smollett sure seems like a rising star. His portrayal of Jamal Lyon on Empire has received critical acclaim. Critics have called the role groundbreaking and offered praise to Smollett for his command of the dynamic and complicated character. More recently Smollett has found himself in the news after being the target of a hate crime in Chicago, according to The New York Times. Before his role in Empire and before he was the vicious target of violence, Smollett was lighting up the big and small screen, and you probably don’t even realize you’ve seen him before!

Jussie Smollett is easily recognizable in The Mighty Ducks

Smollett appeared in The Mighty Ducks opposite Emilio Estevez in 1991. In his role, Smollett played Terry Hall, one of the members of the ragtag hockey team Estevez’s character coaches as part of a DUI sentence. He did not reprise his role in the film’s sequel. Smollett was nominated for a Young Artist Award for his work on the film, according to IMDB.

Smollett appeared in North in 1994


Smollett followed up his work in The Mighty Ducks with a small role in North. North is a comedy-drama about a 9 year old who feels that his parents don’t appreciate him. He lobbies a judge for the chance to find a better family. The character of North, played by Elijah Woods, traverses the globe to a find the perfect family to fit his needs. Smollett played Adam, a friend of North’s in the film.

Jussie Smollett starred in a television series in the 1990s

Shortly after his role in North, Smollett was cast in On Our Own. The television show ran for 20 episodes before it was canceled. The show follows the lives of seven recently orphaned brothers and sisters as they navigate the world without their parents. Smollett acted with his real-life siblings, Jazz, JoJo, Jocqui, Jake and Jurnee in the short-lived sitcom.

A hiatus from acting

After On Our Own Smollett took a significant break from acting. He does not appear with a film or television credit until a 2009 credit for the short film Pitch This. During his hiatus from the acting world Smollett attended traditional school and stayed active in performing arts and music, but the majority of his childhood was relatively low key.

According to Out, Smollett never considered himself a child star, just a working actor. He attributes the acting hiatus to not quite fitting into a mold just yet. Such issues are not uncommon for child actors. During the teen years it is difficult for many child actors to find work as they grow and change. Even when he was off the big and small screen, he was performing. He notes he wrote music and performed it whenever possible from the age of 13.

Smollett also developed a love of food and cooking during his time away from Hollywood. Smollett appeared, along with his siblings, in a Food Network show that featured the close-knit family enjoying meals, events, and BBQs together. The siblings have since gone on to publish a cookbook.

Life on Empire

Smollett was cast in the role of Jamal Lyon in 2015. The character, raised in Philadelphia must figure out how to navigate the music world. Smollett went on to sign a recording contract, in part because of his work on the television show. He remains a pivotal character on the beloved drama.

Read more: Jussie Smollett Attack: His Family Speaks Out

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