Empire star Jussie Smollett has spoken out for the first time following his brutal attack, which police called a “possible hate crime” that occurred in Chicago on Tuesday. Smollett released a statement to Essence on Friday in which he began, “Let me start by saying that I’m OK. My body is strong but my soul is stronger. More importantly I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words.”
He continued by addressing misinformation about the attack that has made headlines. “I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level,” Smollett stated. “Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.”
Smollett’s statement continued to touch upon how he is not the only one who has been involved in such a “horrific incident” and explained that he will discuss the matter in further detail in the future, but for now, he needs time.
“As my family stated, these types of cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers and non-gender conforming siblings daily,” Smollett’s statement also read. “I am not and should not be looked upon as an isolated incident.”
Smollett ended his statement by choosing love over hate. He said, “Most importantly, during times of trauma, grief and pain, there is still a responsibility to lead with love. It’s all I know. And that can’t be kicked out of me.”
Smollett, who is gay, was attacked by two unknown assailants who allegedly beat the actor with their hands and poured an “unknown chemical” on him, according to a Chicago Police Department statement tweeted by Philip Lewis, HuffPost’s front page editor. Per the police statement, the assailants also allegedly yelled racial and homophobic slurs during the attack. According to ABC News, Smollett also told police in a follow-up interview that the attackers yelled “MAGA country” during the brutal attack.
His family also released a statement on Thursday, which you can read in its entirety in the Instagram shared by his sister, actor Jurnee Smollett-Bell.
Next to a photo of his sisters and brothers, part of his family’s statement touched upon how “targeted hate crimes” consistently happen to “our sisters, brothers and our gender non-conforming siblings, many who reside within the intersection of multiple identities.”
The statement continued, “Oftentimes ending fatally, these are inhumane acts of domestic terrorism and they should be treated as such. They will continue to occur until we hold each other accountable. Make no mistake, words matter. Hateful words lead to hateful actions. Radical love is the only solution, but passivity will be our downfall. We, as a family, will continue to work for love, equity and justice until it reigns supreme in our nation and all over the world.”
In addition to Smollett’s family, celebrities, including his Empire costars, have reacted to his brutal attack by sending the actor immense amounts of love and support.