Jussie Smollett is a biracial actor and singer, who came to national attention in the hit Fox drama “Empire”, where he portrays a gay black man caught up in the backstage machinations of the music industry. Smollett is himself gay, and very publically so, coming out on Ellen DeGeneres’ show in 2015. He began his acting career as a child, in such films as “The Mighty Ducks” and “North”, before moving into commercials and guest spots, then returning to a lead role in 2015 with “Empire”. Smollett’s portrayal has received international acclaim as “groundbreaking” for gays of color.
On January 29, 2019, Smollett filed a report with the Chicago Police Department alleging he had been attacked and brutalized by two white men in the street, who hurled fists and both racial and sexual epithets at him, including putting a rope around his neck. According to Smollett, the attackers yelled “This is MAGA country!” as they assaulted him, an apparent reference to Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign theme. Smollett claims he fought them off, and was released from the hospital the next morning with only superficial injuries.