It's been over a year since Jurnee Smollett's brother, Empire star Jussie Smollett, was allegedly attacked by two men in a racist and homophobic assault and was subsequently accused of staging a hate crime and filing false police reports related to it, but now the Birds of Prey star is breaking her silence about her brother’s scandal, coming out in support of Jussie. Smollett recently told The Hollywood Reporter that the experienced has been painful for her family and that she believes and stands by her brother.
In the interview, Smollett, who plays Dinah Lance/Black Canary in the Suicide Squad follow-up film, described the experience as "one of the most painful things" that her family's ever been through and that she loves and believes her brother.
"It's been fucking painful, one of the most painful things my family's ever experienced -- to love someone as much as we love my brother, and to watch someone who you love that much go through something like this, that is so public, has been devastating," Smollett said. "I was already in a very dark space for a number of reasons, and I've tried not to let it make me pessimistic. But everyone who knows me knows that I love my brother and I believe my brother."
On January 29, 2019 Jussie reported to Chicago police that he had been assaulted in the early morning hours of that day by two white men who tied a rope around his neck, poured an unknown chemical substance on him, and shouted racist and homophobic slurs. In February of that year, however, Jussie was arrested on charges of filing a false report. Charges were dropped in May 2019, but in January 2020, a grand jury brought new charges against him. Jussie has maintained his innocence in the matter throughout.
Because the case is ongoing, Smollett was limited in what she could say about the situation, but was very clear that her brother's challenges haven't impacted her own career -- Smollett was officially cut from Empire in June 2019 -- and that both she and her brother are very supported by their community, something she's grateful for.
"We are blessed to have a community of people who know him and know that he wouldn't do this," Smollett said. "I mean, fuck, man, I look at him sometimes and I'm like 'He's so strong'."
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital. It will arrive on HBO Max later this month.
What do you think about Smollett's comments about her brother? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images.