Will Jussie Smollett Be Back for ‘Empire’ Season 6?
Empire is getting a Season 6, but Jussie Smollett won’t be coming back to the show. On April 30, Fox announced it had renewed the soapy drama. However, Smollett’s character Jamal Lyon is not expected to return — at least for now.
Smollett’s future on the hit show has been up in the air since he was accused of staging a hate crime against himself and then lying about the attack to police. Prosecutors in Chicago ultimately decided not to file charges against the actor for filing a false report. Instead, he agreed to complete community service and forfeit his $10,000 bond. Smollet has maintained his innocence and says he really was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack.
Fox hasn’t fired Smollett
After questions were raised about the January attack on Smollett, the actor was removed from Season 5’s final two episodes. Now, the network has opted to keep the character of Jamal offscreen for the foreseeable future. But there’s still a chance that Smollett could return to the show, since his contract has been extended.
“By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for Season 6, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to ‘Empire,” Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television said in a statement to Variety.
Smollett’s spokesperson confirmed the decision.
“We’ve been told that Jussie will not be on Empire in the beginning of the season but he appreciates they have extended his contract to keep Jamal’s future open. Most importantly he is grateful to Fox and Empire leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support,” Smollett’s rep told Variety.
The Empire cast supports Smollett
While Fox is hesitant to have Smollett return to Empire, his fellow cast members are firmly in his corner. His co-stars Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard sent a letter to Fox asking that Smollett be brought back for Season 6.
“Together, as a united front, we stand with Jussie Smollett and ask that our co-star, brother and friend be brought back for our sixth season of Empire,” they wrote in the letter, which was also signed by Bryshere Y. Gray, Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe and Nicole Ari Parker. They went on to describe Smollett as “honest” and “filled with integrity” and discussed his numerous charitable endeavours.
The actors described themselves as a “family” and added that they were “confident our fans will welcome our “Jamal” back into the Empire family as enthusiastically as we will.”
Smollett’s last episode of Empire aired April 24. It focused on Jamal and Kai’s wedding.
Smollett’s legal problems aren’t over
While prosecutors have dropped the charges against Smollett, his legal troubles aren’t over. The City of Chicago is suing the actor over the cost of the police overtime spent investigating the alleged hate crime against him.
Officials decided to file the lawsuit after Smollett declined to reimburse the city for the 1,836 hours of police overtime incurred investigating the January 29 incident. That overtime cost $130,106.15, according to a report in the New York Times.
Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundario, the brothers who Smollet allegedly conspired with to stage the attack, have also sued Smollett’s lawyers for defamation. They say the actor’s attorneys, Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian, have continued to falsely accuse them of attacking their client.
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