‘He Is My Son’: Lee Daniels Speaks Up for Jussie Smollett

Jussie Smollett and Lee Daniels at a party in New York, April 18, 2017.
Jussie Smollett and Lee Daniels at a party in New York, April 18, 2017.
Photo: Getty

As the saga surrounding Empire star Jussie Smollett continues to show no signs of coming to a close anytime soon, his boss, Lee Daniels, is standing by his side.

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In New York to produce an Off-Broadway play while Empire is on hiatus, the uber producer spoke with Extra about the woes plaguing Smollett — and the Empire cast as a result.

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“The cast is upset, it is a sad time, and we are slowly healing,” Daniels said of the impact the drama surrounding Smollett — and accusations that he paid two brothers to stage a racist and homophobic attack on him — has had on the Empire family.

However, Smollett has maintained his innocence, and Daniels, telling Extra that the actor is like a son to him, says he can only be supportive.

“What I am learning right now is I can’t judge [...] that judgement is for that man wearing that black coat with gavel, and God,” Daniels said. “I can only support him because he is like my son; he is my son. So I am with him; I can only support him and give him compassion.”

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Lee is in New York producing the play Ain’t No Mo’, by 23-year-old playwright Jordan E. Cooper, whom Daniels discovered.

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Playing at the Public Theater through May 5, the production was described thusly by Daniels:

“It’s about the last African Americans that leave to go to Africa, a drag queen is your flight attendant, Obama is your pilot and you laugh and you cry and I have never seen anything like it in my life.”

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Lee is hoping to bring it to Broadway and make a film that he would direct in the future.

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DISCUSSION

Why are they STILL talking? Like why is anyone still talking about Jussie? Can they all just go the hell away, already?

I feel like they are all emotional vampires; I feel that Jussie is low-key enjoying the drama, and I want no part of that. This ain’t an episode of Empire, Lee.