The fate of Jussie Smollett’s character on Empire is still up in the air. On the recent final episode of the hit FOX series, Smollett’s character, Jamal Lyon, got married and was whisked away on a honeymoon. Some believe that storyline marked the end of Jamal on the show, even though Smollett’s fellow castmates have expressed their support for his return.
Smollett’s legal woes may be behind him, but criticism from the industry and beyond remains. Opinions are divided as it pertains to the actor’s guilt or innocence in the attack against him that shook the world, with some believing that he staged it all for publicity. Star actress and media mogul Queen Latifah was recently asked to share her thoughts on Smollett and whether or not she believes he should be allowed to return to his hit series.
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“Empire, they’re a family. If they’re calling for him to come back…that’s his family,” Latifah told PEOPLE. “That’s up to them. Why not?” she said. When asked if she’d talked to Smollett to get any clarity about the incident that almost had him embroiled in a messy trial, Latifah said she hadn’t. “No, I don’t normally talk to Jussie. It’s not like we talk to each other all the time. We run into each other and we see each other and it’s always love. He’s always been a good guy in my opinion. It’s just always love. To me, he’s just apart of Empire. I can’t even imagine that show really without him.”
“I really don’t have an opinion,” she added. “I never really had an opinion on whether it was true, whether it was not true. My only opinion was that people are innocent until proven guilty. That’s just the law in our country. So, you know…prove him guilty if that’s what you feel. But if not then…to me he’s innocent until proven guilty, that’s just how I feel about it.”
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Early last month, Latifah vocalized her support of Jussie during a time when many others were condemning him. “The guy I’ve seen has always been someone who cares about people, who cares about others, and who’s very kind and who’s always been cool and sweet,” Latifah told the Yahoo series Through Her Eyes. “And that’s just the guy I know. So until I can see some definitive proof — which I haven’t seen yet — then, you know, I gotta go with him until I see otherwise.” Adding, “I don’t even know what to make of it […] All I know is that I hope everything works out in the end and everybody basically comes out unscathed.”