Empire star convicted

Alice Webster, staff writer

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Since its debut in 2015, the Fox drama Empire, which centers on a wildly successful and scandalous African American family involved in the music business, has received great critical acclaim. However, its recent publicity has been less than stellar. Star Jussie Smollett, who plays R&B singer Jamal on the show, recently went public with the story of a hate crime due to his sexual orientation and race. He claimed that two men screamed slurs at him, tied a noose around his neck, and poured bleach on him at about two in the morning on January 29. This incident was thoroughly scrutinized and eventually revealed as a fake.

Many people were skeptical that two white supremacists were roaming Chicago at two in the morning with a noose and bleach looking for a black gay television star. In fact, it was not white supremacists that attacked Jussie, but two Nigerian brothers, one of whom appeared on Empire as an extra. Little information has been released about the brothers, but security footage has shown them purchasing both rope and bleach. They have confessed to aiding Smollett and are now aiding the police.

In light of this revelation, many are skeptical of the legitimacy of a threatening letter which was sent to Smollet at Fox mere days before the incident containing slurs and an unidentified powder which investigators believe is likely crushed Tylenol. Smollett’s lies about his assault have led many to believe that this, too, was a hoax orchestrated for publicity. Chicago Police claim that Smollett’s actions were motivated by his dissatisfaction with his salary on Empire, despite making $125,000 per episode.

The State’s Attorney decided not to prosecute; however, Smollett’s character had already been written out of the last two episodes of Season 5. It is unclear if he will return to the show due to his severely diminished popularity and ongoing investigations by the FBI.

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