- Category : 1982-births
- Type : MGP
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Vessel of Love 2
American screen actor, singer-songwriter, director and photographer who began his career as a child actor in 1987 starring in commercials and films, including The Mighty Ducks (1992) and Rob Reiner's North (1994).
In 2015, Smollett attracted international attention and received rave reviews for his portrayal of musician Jamal Lyon--a gay musician who struggles to gain his father's approval--in the Fox drama series Empire. His role was hailed as "groundbreaking" for its positive depiction of a black gay man on television. Smollett has also appeared in Ridley Scott's science fiction film Alien: Covenant (2017) as Ricks and in Marshall (2017) as Langston Hughes.
Smollett came out as gay during a televised interview with Ellen DeGeneres in March 2015. In a 2016 interview with Out magazine, Smollett clarified his sexual orientation by stating "If I had to label myself, I would label myself as a gay man." However, he stated his belief that openness to love is more important than gender, revealing that "If I fall in love down the road with a woman, I'm going to love that woman."
Smollett claimed that he was attacked at around 2:30 AM on 29 January 2019 in Chicago in what was described as a possible hate crime. (Police records time the attack at 2:04 am and lasting 45 seconds.) Smollett said to police that he was attacked after leaving a fast-food restaurant by two white men in ski masks, who made racial and homophobic slurs.
According to a statement released by the Chicago Police Department, the two suspects then poured an unknown liquid on Smollett and put a noose around his neck. Smollett said that he fought off the attackers; he then admitted himself to Northwestern Memorial Hospital from which he was released "in good condition" later that morning. Smollett later said that the attack may have been motivated by his criticism of the Trump administration.
On 30 January 2019, public figures expressed support for Smollett on social media. Entertainment industry figures, including Shonda Rhimes and Viola Davis, tweeted their outrage and support. Democratic senators and presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Cory Booker both described the attack as a modern-day lynching. Booker urged Congress to pass a federal Anti-Lynching Bill co-sponsored by him and Harris.
On 13 February 2019, Chicago Police raided the home of two "persons of interest" in the case. The men are brothers and of Nigerian descent and have acted as extras on Empire. Police recovered bleach and other items from the home and inquired if the men know Smollett. The brothers were put in police custody on suspicion of battery but had not been formally charged. According to the brothers' attorney, they knew Smollett from working on the show and had also spent time with him at a gym. The two men were arrested at O'Hare International Airport on 13 February 2019.
On 20 February 2019, Smollett was indicted for disorderly conduct for allegedly staging the attack and filing a false police report. Police alleged that he intended to further his career by tying the incident to racism in the United States and Donald Trump.
Smollett’s felony count charge in Illinois carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison. Smollett has hired attorney Mark Geragos in addition to Chicago-based attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson to work on his legal defence. He was indicted on 16 disorderly conduct felony counts by a grand jury on 8 March 2019.
Smollett's defense team reached a deal with prosecutors on 26 March 2019, in which all charges were dropped in return for Smollett performing community service and forfeiting his $10,000 bond. On 27 March it was announced that the FBI would be investigating why the charges were dismissed.
On 11 February 2020 Smollett was indicted by a Chicago grand Jury on charges of staging the attack against himself.