- “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett performed in his first show since his reported attack earlier this week.
- Smollett told the crowd Friday he is OK but “not fully healed yet,” after he was attacked by two men in what Chicago police described as “possible racially charged assault and battery.”
- Smollett has released multiple statements standing by his initial account of the attack and clarifying that he is cooperating with authorities for the ongoing investigation.
“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett performed at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, California with his band Friday night in his first show since his reported attack earlier this week.
Smollett told the crowd Saturday he is “not fully healed yet,” after he was attacked by two men in what Chicago police described as “possible racially charged assault and battery.”
After the attack, police said two men in ski masks approached an “Empire” cast member, yelling out “racial and homophobic slurs.” The attackers then “poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim” and put a rope around his neck before leaving.
The 36-year-old actor, who identifies as gay and plays a gay character on the series, offered a message of hope before beginning his set to Saturday’s crowd.
“Regardless of what anyone else says, I will only stand for love,” Smollett said tearfully. “We hope that you all stand with us.”
Alluding to reports that there were additional security concerns for Smollett’s first public appearance since the attack, Smollett offered a defiant message.
“I had to be here tonight, y’all. I couldn’t let those (expletives) win,” he said, prompting screams and cheers from about 400 people, according to the Associated Press. “I will always stand for love. I will only stand for love.”
Smollett also told the crowd he wanted to clarify reports of the attack, specifically that though he was bruised, none of his ribs were broken. The actor also said he went to the doctor but was not hospitalized.
“Above all, I fought the (expletive) back,” he said to cheers, the Associated Press reported.
After a pause, Smollett laughed, “I’m the gay Tupac.”
Smollett offered a similarly defiant tone in a statement provided to Essence on Friday, where he said he was OK but condemned the “cowardly attacks.”
“As my family stated, these types of cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers and non-gender conforming siblings daily,” Smollett wrote. “I am not and should not be looked upon as an isolated incident.”
No arrests have been made in the investigation, and police have not found surveillance video of the attack, though they found footage of Smollett walking home with the rope around his neck.
Police also identified two potential persons of interest who are seen in surveillance video near the area of the alleged attack.
“While the video does not capture an encounter, detectives are taking this development seriously & wish to question individuals as more cameras are being reviewed,” Anthony Guglielmi, chief communications officer for the Chicago Police Department tweeted.