In the midst of the evolving investigation into the alleged attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment released a statement on Wednesday (Feb. 20) affirming that it stands behind the singer/actor and re-iterating that he is not, as rumored, being written out of the show.
“Jussie Smollett continues to be a consummate professional on set and as we have previously stated, he is not being written out of the show,” read the statement.
The affirmation came as the details about the investigation into the alleged attack on Smollett, 36, continues to change on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. The actor has said he was approached around 2:00 a.m. on Jan. 29 near his apartment in Chicago by two men yelling racial and homophobic slurs, who then reportedly beat him, poured an unidentified caustic liquid on him and shouted “This is MAGA country!”, an apparent reference to Pres. Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make American Great Again.”
To date, police have found scant video footage to corroborate the attack despite arresting and later releasing two Nigerian brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, who were initially deemed suspects in the case. That designation was changed after Chicago police said over the weekend that the “trajectory” of the investigation had shifted, without offering any specifics. “We can confirm that the information received from the individuals [arrested and later released] questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has, in fact, shifted the trajectory of the investigation,” police said.
Police have reportedly requested a second interview with Smollett; it was unknown at press time if the actor has met with investigators again. The show of confidence from Fox came after reports that Smollett — who plays singer Jamal Lyon on the show — was possibly being written out of the long-running Fox musical soap opera, or was having his screen time drastically reduced in the wake of the questions about the details of the alleged attack.