Jussie Smollett, the actor best known for his role on Fox's hit drama Empire, was hospitalized following an assault that took place in Chicago. Smollett was attacked by two currently unidentified individuals at around 2 a.m. Local authorities are currently investigating, with the help of the FBI. CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi had this to say in a statement.
"Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime. Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline."
Authorities have been collecting and reviewing footage from private and city cameras in order to aid in the investigation. According to reports, Jussie Smollett's attackers first got his attention by yelling racial and anti-gay slurs at him. Smollett's character on Empire is a gay musician and he self-identifies as gay, in addition to being an activist within the LGBTQ community. Following the verbal attack, the two individuals poured an unidentified chemical on Smollett, then wrapped a rope around his neck before fleeing the scene. 20th Century Fox, the studio behind Empire, released the following statement after news of the incident broke.
"We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our Empire family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night. We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice. The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate, and especially against one of our own."
The actor was and is now said to be in "good condition." Empire has been a huge hit for Fox since it debuted in 2015. The music-centric drama also stars Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson and Bryshere Gray. The series spends much of the year filming in Chicago, where the attack took place. Producer Brian Grazer also released a statement, not only sharing his kind words for Jussie Smollett, but also sharing his disgust for those who committed the crime.
"I am disgusted and saddened by the attack on Jussie, one of the nicest and most genuine people I have worked with. I send him much love on his recovery. Hate and bigotry have no place in our society."
In the wake of the news, there has been an outpouring of support on social media from those around Hollywood from people such as Michael B. Jordan, Mindy Kaling and Empire co-star Danny Strong. Series creator Lee Daniels took to Instagram to release an impassioned video in support of the young star, referring to him as his "son," which we have shared below. Organizations such as the ACLU and the Human Rights Campaign also shared their support. Fox hasn't provided any indication as to whether or not this will affect the show's production schedule. This news was previously reported by the Chicago Tribune.