In a rare interview, Jussie Smollett recently opened up about the aftermath of being accused of staging his own hate crime in Chicago.
While speaking with Sirius XM’s Sway Calloway on Wednesday, the former ‘Empire’ star opened up about 2019 when he was arrested for filing a fake police report claiming he was the victim of an attack racist and homophobic in an affluent neighborhood of Chicago.
Earlier this year, Smollett was convicted in Chicago of organizing a hate crime and sentenced to 150 days in jail. But the actor, director and musician, who claimed his innocence, was released from prison soon after pending an appeal.
“The prison system must be dismantled,” Smollett said in “Sway in the Morning.”
“I know I didn’t do that. … This place is not for redemption. This place is not meant to make you come out better than when you walked in.
After the arrest, a swift and severe reaction ensued. People all over the internet have piled on Smollett for allegedly wasting police time and resources for his personal gain. But Smollett didn’t see any of the criticism until a year after his arrest, he told the radio show.
“When I say I was cut off from the world, I was cut off from the world,” he said. “My family took my phone. I didn’t have my phone. … I was not allowed to go on social networks.
Smollett added that those close to him shielded him from negativity “in a very beautiful way” until one day he decided to Google himself.
“Worst idea ever,” he said. “I really saw what it was, and it was so painful because I was like, ‘Ooh, he said that about me? Oh my God. She said that?'”
Following the alleged attack and before his arrest, Smollett sat down to discuss the ordeal with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America” — a bombshell interview he now regrets doing.
“I watched it and was mortified,” he told Calloway. “Every word I said in that interview was the truth, but there was a certain level of performative nature that came out of it because I didn’t want to be there. …
“I was so angry and so offended that I had to go on national television and explain something that had happened to me. And it was so political, and it was all of these things, and I found myself to deal with my own internalized homophobia.
Smollett appeared on “Sway in the Morning” to promote his new movie, “B-Boy Blues,” on BET+. His directorial debut is his first Hollywood project since being fired from “Empire” following his 2019 arrest.
Several entertainment personalities, including Smollett’s “Empire” co-star Taraji P. Henson, protested the outcome of his trial in Chicago and posted the hashtag #FreeJussie on social media.
“I’ve never felt healthier and more grateful,” Smollett told Calloway. “I come out of the idea of trying to convince or trying to hope that people see the truth. …I really go where the love is.