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Jussie Smollett’s ‘Empire’ Character May Be Recast Amid Deepening Scandal

He was arrested this week for filing a false police report.

Jussie Smollett attends the "Empire" FYC Event in Los Angeles. Smollett, who alleges he was the victim of a brutal racial and homophobic attack, is a former child star who grew up to become a champion of LGBT rights and one of the few actors to play a black gay character on primetime TV. His breakthrough came aboard the hip-hop drama "Empire," playing Jamal Lyon, a talented R&B singer struggling to earn his father's approval and find his place in his dad's music empire. It became one of the biggest network shows to star a gay black characterJussie Smollett-Profile, Los Angeles, USA - 20 May 2016

Jussie Smollett

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

After being removed from the final two episodes of “Empire’s” current season, Jussie Smollett’s character may be recast altogether. The news comes amid the deepening scandal surrounding the actor, who was arrested this week for filing a false report after claiming he was assaulted in a hate crime late last month. The news comes from TVLine, which further reports that “Empire” co-creator Lee Daniels (on whom Smollett’s character of Jamal is loosely based) is “said to be a strong proponent of the recast option.”

“The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us” said series executives Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer in a statement released after Smollett was arrested.

“Jussie has been an important member of our ‘Empire’ family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.”

“Empire” is nearing the end of its fifth season, and Smollett has co-starred since it began four years ago. According to Chicago PD, he “staged” his attack in order to receive a higher salary on the Fox drama and “promote his career.”

IndieWire has reached out to Fox for comment.


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