On Friday morning (Feb. 1), Empire actor Jussie Smollett spoke out for the first time after he was reportedly attacked by two masked individuals hurling racial and homophobic slurs at him in Chicago.
The actor gave his first public statement about the attack to Essence, assuring his fans and the public at large that he is recovering from the incident. “Let me start by saying that I’m ok,” Smollett said. “My body is strong but my soul is stronger.”
Smollett shared his gratitude for the many people who shared their support for him and spoke out on his behalf, saying that the support has been extremely helpful for him. “More importantly I want to say thank you,” he said. “The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words.”
According to police, Smollett claims he was approached by two individuals early Tuesday morning after he left a Subway restaurant in Chicago. He said his attackers yelled slurs at him, poured a yet-identified liquid on him, tied a noose around his neck and beat him before running away. The actor admitted himself to Northwestern Hospital and contacted authorities.
Recent statements from the police said that the investigating officers had asked Smollett to turn over his phone after the actor said he was on the phone with his manager at the time. According to the statement, Smollett refused, leading some online to question the actor’s claims about the assault.
Smollett, however, said in his statement that despite what conclusions some are jumping to, he is working with the police to find his attackers. “I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level,” he said. “Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.”
The actor’s statement comes one day after his family released a joint statement of support for Smollett, saying that the attack was a hate crime. “These targeted hate crimes are happening to our sisters, brothers and our gender non-conforming siblings, many who reside within the intersection of multiple identities, on a monthly, weekly, and sometimes even daily basis all across our country,” they wrote. “Oftentimes ending fatally, these are inhumane acts of domestic terrorism and they should be treated as such.”
Smollett ended his statement saying that we would have more to say after taking the necessary time to process his emotions. “Most importantly, during times of trauma, grief and pain, there is still a responsibility to lead with love,” he said. “It’s all I know. And that can’t be kicked out of me.”