In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the "Birds of Prey" star, who maintains her older brother's innocence, opened up about how the controversy has affected the Smollett family, which includes Jurnee, 33, Jussie, 38, and their siblings: Jojo, 42, Jazz, 40, Jake, 31, and Jocqui.
"[It's] one of the most painful things my family's ever experienced -- to love someone as much as we love my brother, and to watch someone who you love that much go through something like this, that is so public, has been devastating," Jurnee told THR. "I was already in a very dark space for a number of reasons, and I've tried to not let it make me pessimistic."
"But everyone who knows me knows that I love my brother and I believe my brother," she added.
Back in January 2019, Jussie was accused of orchestrating a fake homophobic and racist attack on himself in Chicago. While the 38-year-old actor was initially charged by a grand jury with a class 4 felony of falsifying a police report, all charges were dropped four weeks later. However, in February 2020 the grand jury revived the case, in which Jussie was charged with six counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police.
While Jurnee said it's "maddening" that she "can't talk" more about the scandal -- as her brother's case is still ongoing --- she stressed that defending Jussie has made her feel supported and hasn't impacted her career.
"We are blessed to have a community of people who know him. And know that he wouldn't do this," Jurnee said of Jussie, who THR notes briefly lived with her after she filed for divorce from her husband of nearly 10 years at the beginning of coronavirus quarantine.
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"I mean, f--k, man, I look at him sometimes and I'm like, 'He's so strong,'" Jurnee continued, adding that Jussie has been "staying creative, as creatives do" by "singing, writing, working on music."
The "Friday Night Lights" actress is currently promoting HBO's, "Lovecraft Country," a sci-fi horror series, based on the 2016 novel of the same name, which follows a young Black man as he travels across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of his missing father.
"We're telling the story of heroes that go on a quest to disrupt white supremacy, and it's maddening that in the year 2020 it's still relevant," Jurnee said.
In her interview with THR, Smollett, who, like her siblings got her start in showbiz as a child, shared her frustration over past experiences as a Black woman in Hollywood.
"Being the girl on page 33 that's killed in a horror film was something I was consistently offered and, I don't judge others, but I couldn't do it," Jurnee recalled, noting that roles as "the girlfriend" or "the best friend" also didn't appeal to her either. "There are just so many ways in which this industry will try, subliminally or overtly, to erase your Blackness."
"I don't apologize," she said of working on the "Lovecraft" set. "I'll be like, 'Listen, this fake-ass sexual harassment meeting that we're having, I'm going to raise my hand now and let you guys know that the standards that they're setting are bare minimum.'"
She added, "I don't know that I can confidently say that I worked on one job prior to 'Lovecraft' from the time I was 12 on -- where I hadn't been sexually harassed, whether it was by an AD, a co-star, director, producer."