More than a year after Jussie Smollett was accused of lying to police about being the victim of a hate crime, his younger sister is speaking out.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, actor Jurnee Smollett opens up about her brother’s ongoing legal battle which, she said, has been personally traumatizing.
“It’s been fucking painful, one of the most painful things my family’s ever experienced,” she said. “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. I was already in a very dark space for a number of reasons, and I’ve tried to not let it make me pessimistic.”
And the star of “Friday Night Lights” and “True Blood” is standing by her sibling all the way.
“Everyone who knows me knows that I love my brother,” she added, “and I believe my brother.”
In January 2019, Jussie Smollett told Chicago police he was attacked in a racist and anti-LGBTQ hate crime. After an investigation, law enforcement accused the “Empire” actor of having staged the entire incident and filing a false police report.
Roughly a month after making the allegations, Jussie Smollett was charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct. Those charges were later dropped, but in February, a grand jury revived the case against him with a six-count indictment.
The actor, who pleaded not guilty to the current charges and maintains his innocence, has kept a low profile so far this year.
In March, he broke his nearly yearlong silence on Instagram by posting a since-deleted video of himself singing Stevie Wonder’s “A Place in the Sun” and urging fans to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jurnee Smollett told The Hollywood Reporter that her brother is “staying creative, as creatives do ― singing, writing, working on music” these days. She said her public support of her brother has had no impact on her career in the TV and film industry.
“We are blessed to have a community of people who know him, and know that he wouldn’t do this,” she added.
If all goes according to plan, Jurnee Smollett’s Hollywood status is about to get an exponential boost. The actor stars in the sci-fi horror series “Lovecraft Country,” due out Aug. 16 on HBO. The show, which is executive produced by Jordan Peele, takes place in the 1950s and portrays the racist atrocities of Jim Crow America.
“We’re telling the story of heroes that go on a quest to disrupt white supremacy,” she said. “It’s maddening that in the year 2020 it’s still relevant.”
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