It’s been a quiet few interesting years for Jussie Smollett, but the former Empire star is resurfacing to promote his directorial debut...just before he’s slated to stand trial for, well, you know.
Over the weekend, Smollett made one of his first public appearances since the infamous 2019 incident in which he’s accused of faking a hate crime in Chicago to generate publicity for his career. His red carpet walk at Harlem’s Magic Johnson Theater came at the unveiling of “B-Boy Blues”, his first stab at directing, and a push for a Hollywood comeback ahead of his legal proceedings.
Smollett’s appearance at the film’s screening came just days before the actor is set to face a jury over the disorderly conduct charges against him surrounding the alleged hate crime he said he was involved in back in 2019.
Lawyers for the actor recently tried to dismiss the case, but a judge denied the motion last month, NBC News reported. The trial is now set to begin on Nov. 29.
Smollett, an openly gay Black actor, was originally indicted in March 2019 with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report in Chicago when he claimed two men attacked him on Jan. 29, 2019, while spewing racist and homophobic slurs. He pleaded not guilty to allegations that he lied to police about the incident, which authorities claimed he had staged with two acquaintances to draw attention to himself.
“B-Boy Blues” is a mid-90s Black literary classic, the first bestseller from Author James Earl Hardy. It’s considered a seminal work of fiction for exploring a same-sex romantic relationship between Black men in an era when LGBTQ+ people faced more open homophobia. The book was a first in a series of five with similar themes, the last of which was published in 2002.
Smollett is also producing the film through his company, SuperMassive Movies, according to Deadline. The film stars singer Ledisi and acting vets Timothy Richardson, Thomas Mackie and Brandee Evans.
His trial in Illinois is on the calendar for Nov. 29, after a judge last month declined in a hearing to dismiss the charges.