Jussie Smollett Was a Hot Topic at the NAACP Image Awards

Last week, prosecutors dropped 16 felony disorderly conduct charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett after he forfeited his bail money and completed his community service. The prosecutor who dropped the charges, though, Joe Magats, the first assistant state’s attorney in Cook County, Illinois, still believes Smollett is guilty of the offenses he was charged for.

Jussie Smollett | Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images
Jussie Smollett | Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

“We believe he did what he was charged with doing,” Magats told WLS. “This was not an exoneration. To say he was exonerated by us or anyone else is not true.”

The decision to drop the charges 18 days after a grand jury indicted Smollett on felony disorderly conduct both shocked and infuriated the Chicago police department and mayor, as well as President Trump.

Chicago police originally investigated Smollett’s case as a possible hate crime, but now believe the incident was staged by Smollett himself in order to “bolster his profile and career,” says CNN.

“It’s Mr. Smollett who committed this hoax, period,” said Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

Jussie Smollett’s NAACP Image Awards nomination

In the midst of all this, Smollett was nominated for outstanding supporting actor in a drama for Empire (a role he may very well not even have anymore–the show’s producers removed his character from the final two episodes of the current season after he was arrested). He did not attend the NAACP Image Awards, despite his nomination. He has not wavered in his stance that he is innocent.  Smollett ended up losing the award to Grey’s Anatamoy actor Jesse Williams.

Though Smollett wasn’t in attendance, the actor’s name came up a few times. Most notably by comedian Chris Rock.

“They said no Jussie Smollett jokes. I know. What a waste of light skin, you know? You know what I could do with that light skin? That curly hair? My career would be outta here, f****** running Hollywood,” said Rock to both audience laughter and cringing. “What the hell was he thinking? From now on I ain’t never gonna (say) no Jussie — you’re a Jessie from now on. You don’t get the ‘u’ no more. That ‘u’ was respect. You don’t get no respect from me.”

As the camera panned to the audeince there was a mix of reactions. The Daily Show host Trevor Noah, in particular, was cracking up while other audience members couldn’t help but shake their heads.

Later in the evening, Black-ish actress Yara Shahidi accepted an award and made a point to tell the audience: “I stand with Jussie.”

This isn’t the first time comedians have taken a shot at Smollett since his arrest. When news broke that the actor might have staged the incident himself, SNL had their fun with the actor as well.

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