Friday, February 26, 2021

Taraji P. Henson Says Disgraced Actor Jussie Smollett is ‘Still My Baby’

*FOX’s music drama “Empire” will soon come to an end, and series star Taraji P. Henson says she’s down for a cast reunion after the series wraps, but only if Jussie Smollett is involved.  

“Oh, absolutely. [But,] we have to see Jussie [Smollett],” she explained to ABC Audio. “I feel like there’s really no way to wrap this show up without him. He was…and is such an integral part.”

Smollett was indicted earlier this year on 16 counts of disorderly conduct in Chicago for filing a false police report after claiming he was the victim of a homophobic hate crime in late January. All charges were eventually dropped, a decision that is currently being reviewed by a special prosecutor.

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Lee+Daniels+Jussie+Smollett+Paley+Center+Media+TTGyRC_zvr-l
(L-R) Actors Trai Byers, Bryshere ‘Yazz’ Gray, co-creator/Executive Producer Lee Daniels, and actor Jussie Smollett arrive at The Paley Center For Media’s 33rd Annual PALEYFEST Los Angeles “Empire” at Dolby Theatre on March 11, 2016 in Hollywood, California.
(March 10, 2016 – Source: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images North America)

Smollett was written out of the final episodes of Season 5 after he was arrested and charged in connection with the incident, and he has been maintaining a low profile ever since. 

“Empire” creator Lee Daniels confirmed in June that Smollett would not return as Jamal Lyon for the show’s final season.

“This is not factual,” Daniels tweeted. “Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire.”

But Henson, who plays Jussie onscreen mother, Cookie Lyon, says the cast “miss[es] him dearly.”

“That character was very important to our show, especially for the LGBT community,” she says. “So, we’re trying to keep him alive without him being there.”

“I know Cookie is because that was her baby,” she continues. “Still her baby. And he my baby — still in real life.”

“Empire” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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