Jussie Smollett appeared on his final Empire Season 5 episode last night.
His character of Jamal got married and was seemingly given a happy send-off — if, indeed, this installment also marked Smollett’s final appearance on the Fox drama overall.
But Smollett’s colleagues very much hope this isn’t the case.
As we’re guessing you’ve heard by now, Smollett was recently cleared of all charges that he falsified a police report and lied about being the victim of a hate crime in Chicago earlier this year.
Still, Chicago law enforcement and the Chicago Mayor strongly believe Smollett is guilty of stagring his own attack and costing the police department lots of money and resources.
Most level-headed observers think the same thing.
Nevertheless, a number of Smollett’s co-stars want him to return to Empire.
He’s been written out of the last two Season 5 episodes… but Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Gabourey Sidibe and other series regulars have penned an open letter that expresses their desire for him to be signed for Season 6.
"Together, as a united front, we stand with Jussie Smollett and ask that our co-star, brother and friend be brought back for our sixth season of Empire," reads the opening of this message, which continues as follows:
We understand the past months have been difficult to process — sometimes the headlines brought more confusion than clarity, yet we now have a conclusion to this ordeal.
Throughout Empire’s five seasons working with Jussie and watching how he has conducted himself throughout this traumatic event, we have come to know not just the character Jussie portrays, but also truly come to know Jussie’s personal character.
He is kind. He is compassionate. He is honest and above all he is filled with integrity. He is also innocent and no longer subject to legal uncertainty with the criminal charges against him having been dropped.
We are confident in his lawyer’s assurance that the case was dismissed because it would not have prevailed.
Previous reports have stated that the Empire cast is divided over the fate of Smollett.
At this point, a majority of the public looks down on him for seemingly orchestrating an assault that grabbed national headlines, exploiting actual hate crimes against African-Americans and gay people in the process.
He alleges that two white Donald Trump supporters yelled racial and homophobic epithets at him, prior to beating him up and tying a noose around his neck.
He has even claimed these perpetrators poured bleach all over him.
Many details in Smollett’s story do not add up, yet prosecutors stunned the world several weeks ago when they chose NOT to prosecute him.
Smollett’s fellow Empire actors and actresses believe what the actor has said all along, though, that is is an innocent victim in all of this.
Continues the open letter:
Jussie has shown us on and off the set who he really is as a leader.
In addition to being a caring friend and cast member who treats every crew member with love and respect, he has spent time with our families and individually supported each of us. These recent and detailed letters from The Black AIDS Institute, the Rainbow Push Coalition and the City Lights Orchestra shine a light on his commitment to true community service.
Just a few months ago, Jussie partnered with the Trevor Project to provide support to their volunteer program that allows LGBTQ youth in crisis access to vital counseling services. Prior to that, he gave every cent from his sold out world tour to numerous charities.
He has adopted a school in Chicago, taught songwriting to incarcerated youth at the Cook County Jail last year and bought the family of Kayden Kinckle, a six-year-old, double amputee, a wheelchair accessible van due to his school district not having a wheelchair accessible school bus.
He has traveled to South Africa for service as well as to Jamaica to quietly meet about the safety of LGBTQ youth.
This was all done without posturing, the need for attention or even discussion.
This is the Jussie we know.
This explains why so many people believed Smollett at the outset of this scandal.
He really is a well-known humanitarian who has fought for various causes.
Hence why it would make sense for some racist thugs to try and send him a message; so the thinking went initially anyway.
Terrence Howard, Taraji P Henson, Bryshere Y. Gray, Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe and Nicole Ari Parker concluded their lengthy letter as follows:
It’s clearer every day that the extreme political climate in our country has only made our system of justice and the court of public opinion more unjust.
It is why now, more than ever, we must stand together as a family. A family is there for us in good times and bad. It can cut through the noise and confusion to understand that there is a person in the center of all this who deserves nothing more than to move forward with his life.
We understand that this show is a business. And that business matters to us as well.
We are confident our fans will welcome our “Jamal” back into the Empire family as enthusiastically as we will.
That is why we write today to ask you to keep Jussie on the cast so that we can all put this behind us and move forward.
Thank you for taking time to hear us. It’s our hope that together we will move into our sixth season as the entire Empire family should.