*“Empire” creator Lee Daniels is speaking out yet again about Jussie Smollett’s alleged homophobic and racially charged attack, telling New York magazine that the is beyond embarrassed’ by the scandal.
Smollett continues to recover from the fallout amid allegations he staged a homophobic and racist hate crime hoax in Chicago in January. Daniels originally issued a statement in support of the actor when the news first broke, but then Chicago police claimed he faked the attack with the help of two Nigerian-American brothers in order to get a pay raise on “Empire.”
Smollett has maintained that he’s innocent of the allegations, and the numerous felony charges he was hit with for lying to the police about the attack were dropped in March.
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“I’m beyond embarrassed,” Daniels tells New York mag. “I think that when it happened, I had a flash of me running from bullies. I had a flash of my whole life, of my childhood, my youth, getting beaten.”
When asked if he had “any doubt in his mind” about Smollett’s innocence, he said “Of course, there’s some doubt.”
Adding, “I’m telling you that because I love him so much. That’s the torture that I’m in right now, because it’s literally if it were to happen to your son and your child, how would you feel? You would feel, Please, God, please let there be that glimmer of hope that there is some truth in this story. That’s why it’s been so painful. It was a flood of pain.”
Daniels previously confirmed that Smollett will not be returning for the sixth and final season of “Empire.”
Earlier this year, he told the embattled star to “hold your head up,” adding “You didn’t deserve — nor does anybody deserve — to have a noose put around your neck, to have bleach thrown on you, to be called, ‘Die, f—t n—r’ or whatever they said to you,” a visibly emotional Daniels said in a video posted to Instagram.
“You are better than that. We are better than that. America is better than that,” he added. “It starts at home … We have to love each other regardless of what sexual orientation we are because it shows that we are … [a] united front and no racist f—k can come in and do the things they did to you.”
“Hold your head up, Jussie,” Daniels continued. “I’m with you…. It’s just another f—in’ day in America.”