His final fate on the show has yet to be decided, but at least he knows he has the support of his cast. On the afternoon of his final appearance for this season, several members of Smollett's on-screen family and friends penned a letter to Fox and the "Empire" creative team asking that he be brought back.
The letter was signed by series stars Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Bryshere Y. Gray, Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe and Nicole Ari Parker, and publicly asserts that they believe Smollett is innocent, emphasizing that the charges have been dropped and painting a picture of the Smollett the know.
Smollett has already been written out of the final two episodes of this season after accusations that he had faked a hate crime and filed a false police report. Those charges have since been dropped, but the controversy is far from over as the city of Chicago has since filed suit against the actor, with several of its officials asserting his guilt. Smollett maintains his innocence on all charges.
It was a much more joyous affair Wednesday evening, when his on-screen character Jamal enjoyed the first-ever gay, black wedding in television history. Perhaps even more significantly for Jamal, his father Lucious (Howard) actually apologized for his past homophobia and ultimately walked him down the aisle alongside Cookie (Henson).
Tonight, #Empire will give life to a monumental love story by marrying 2 black, gay men for the first time in television history. Please join us in celebration until it's no longer a phenomenon to see 2 people of the same sex and race love each other proudly, on prime time TV.
No one at Fox or on the "Empire" team has responded yet to the cast letter, nor are they like to until a final decision is made. And with no official season six pickup yet -- though industry insiders see that as likely -- and months to go before filming would begin anyway, there's no reason to think they'd make a decision any time soon.
More than likely, they'll let the real-life drama continue to play out, gauging ongoing legal issues in Chicago as well as the public's reaction to each development. "Empire" creator said on Wednesday morning that Smollett's fate is "in discussions," as reported by Deadline.
You can check out the full text of the cast's letter below:
Dear Charlie, Dana, Michael, Lee, Danny, Francie, Brian, Sanaa, Dennis, and Brett,
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.
We understand the past months have been difficult to process—sometimes the headlines brought more confusion than clarity, yet we now have a conclusion to this ordeal. Throughout Empire's five seasons working with Jussie and watching how he has conducted himself throughout this traumatic event, we have come to know not just the character Jussie portrays, but also truly come to know Jussie's personal character. He is kind. He is compassionate. He is honest and above all he is filled with integrity. He is also innocent and no longer subject to legal uncertainty with the criminal charges against him having been dropped. We are confident in his lawyer's assurance that the case was dismissed because it would not have prevailed.
Jussie has shown us on and off the set who he really is as a leader. In addition to being a caring friend and cast member who treats every crew member with love and respect, he has spent time with our families and individually supported each of us. These recent and detailed letters from The Black AIDS Institute, the Rainbow Push Coalition and the City Lights Orchestra shine a light on his commitment to true community service. Just a few months ago, Jussie partnered with the Trevor Project to provide support to their volunteer program that allows LGBTQ youth in crisis access to vital counseling services. Prior to that, he gave every cent from his sold out world tour to numerous charities. He has adopted a school in Chicago, taught songwriting to incarcerated youth at the Cook County Jail last year and bought the family of Kayden Kinckle, a six-year-old, double amputee, a wheelchair accessible van due to his school district not having a wheelchair accessible school bus. He has traveled to South Africa for service as well as to Jamaica to quietly meet about the safety of LGBTQ youth. This was all done without posturing, the need for attention or even discussion.
This is the Jussie we know.
It's clearer every day that the extreme political climate in our country has only made our system of justice and the court of public opinion more unjust.
It is why now, more than ever, we must stand together as a family. A family is there for us in good times and bad. It can cut through the noise and confusion to understand that there is a person in the center of all this who deserves nothing more than to move forward with his life. We understand that this show is a business. And that business matters to us as well. We are confident our fans will welcome our “Jamal” back into the Empire family as enthusiastically as we will.
That is why we write today to ask you to keep Jussie on the cast so that we can all put this behind us and move forward. Thank you for taking time to hear us. It's our hope that together we will move into our sixth season as the entire Empire family should.