Jussie Smollett returns to the BET Awards


Jussie Smollett attends the BET Awards – his first awards show since he served just six days in prison for faking hate crime attack

  • Disgraced Empire actor Jussie Smollett returned to the red carpet on Sunday donning a tan jacket with baggy brown pants reaching below his heels and black leather shoes
  • Smollett, 40, seemed almost care-free ahead of the BET Awards on Sunday, months after he was released from a Chicago county prison after serving just six days of a 150-day sentence
  • He was convicted in December of lying to the police about being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack that he staged with two Nigerian brothers
  • The Illinois Appellate Court ordered a stay on his sentence in March as he sought an appeal of his conviction
  • Smollett has since tried to rebrand himself in Hollywood, directing the BET+ original movie B-Boy Blues, and releasing his song Thank You God, which touches on his recent legal troubles

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Disgraced actor Jussie Smollett returned to the red carpet donning a tan jacket with long brown pants on Sunday, as he seeks to return to Hollywood.

The Empire actor, who was convicted last year of lying to the police about a racist and homophobic attack he staged, was pictured smiling broadly ahead of the BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

He was seen wearing a tan jacket with its sleeves rolled up over a white tank top, baggy brown pants reaching below his heels and black leather shoes. And around his neck, he flashed gold chains, a cross and a gold necklace in the shape of Africa.

In fact, Smollett, 40, seemed almost care-free ahead of the awards show, months after he was released from a Chicago county prison after serving just six days of a 150-day sentence.

The Illinois Appellate Court ordered a stay on his sentence in March as he sought an appeal of his conviction.

Since then, Smollett has tried to rebrand himself in Hollywood – this time as a director for the BET+ original movie, B-Boy Blues, an adaptation of the James Earl Hardy 1991 novel. 

He also released his song Thank You God, which touches on his recent legal troubles.

‘Some people searching for fame / Some people chasing that clout / Just remember this … this ain’t that situation / You think I’m stupid enough to kill my reputation?’ the lyrics read.

Disgraced actor Jussie Smollett, 40, returned to the red carpet on Sunday for the BET Awards wearing a tan jacket with its sleeves rolled up over a white tank top, baggy brown pants down to his feet and black leather shoes

Disgraced actor Jussie Smollett, 40, returned to the red carpet on Sunday for the BET Awards wearing a tan jacket with its sleeves rolled up over a white tank top, baggy brown pants down to his feet and black leather shoes

Smollett is trying to rebrand himself after he was released from prison after serving just six days of a 150-day sentence

He seemed almost care-free months after he was released from the jail on charges of disorderly conduct for falsely claiming he was the victim of a hate crime in 2019

Smollett seemed almost care-free months after he was released from a Chicago county jail on charges of disorderly conduct for falsely claiming he was the victim of a hate crime in January 2019. He is now appealing the conviction

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight from the red carpet of Sunday’s BET Awards, Smollett said he ‘never thought of myself as working my way back.’

He admitted that getting the chance to be back on a set and once again create content has been ‘wonderful.’

‘This has always been the plan, to expand my empire, so to speak,’ Smollett told the outlet of his desire to become a director. ‘To expand the level of what I want to do… to be able to usher in a new generation of artists and actors, and these amazing talents.’

Smollett also had a message to those who have supported him through the conviction: ‘I tell them with all my heart, just thank you.

‘They never waivered, they never straddled the fence and for that, I am forever grateful. I don’t take that lightly for  a moment.

‘My family, my friends, the true ones, if I never get to hug you in person, know that there’ a hug in my heart that I genuinely mean.’ 

Smollett was convicted in December of five counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police about being the victim of a racist, anti-gay attack he said was perpetrated by Trump supporters who screamed 'this is MAGA country'

Smollett was convicted in December of five counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police about being the victim of a racist, anti-gay attack he said was perpetrated by Trump supporters who screamed ‘this is MAGA country’ 

Smollett only served six days of his 150-day prison sentence after an Illinois Appellate Court issued a stay on his prison term while he appeals his conviction. He is seen here leaving the Cook County Department of Corrections detention center on March 16, 2022

Smollett only served six days of his 150-day prison sentence after an Illinois Appellate Court issued a stay on his prison term while he appeals his conviction. He is seen here leaving the Cook County Department of Corrections detention center on March 16, 2022

Smollett was convicted in December of five counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police about being the victim of a racist, anti-gay attack he said was perpetrated by Trump supporters who screamed ‘this is MAGA country’.

He told Chicago police he had been accosted on a darkened street by two masked strangers in Chicago in January 2019. 

According to his account of the attack, the assailants threw a noose around his neck and poured chemicals on him while yelling racist and homophobic slurs and expressing support for then-President Donald Trump.

But Chicago cops almost immediately had questions about his story, pointing to the fact that he kept a noose around his neck as they questioned him and positing that he staged the attack out of fear he was going to be written off the show.

Over the course of their investigation, Chicago police found that the two men Smollett accused of assaulting him were Nigerian brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo, who are black.

And in court, the brothers told the jury Smollett hired them to fake the attack because he wanted to boost his celebrity profile. 

Smollett later claimed that in the days before the stunt, when prosecutors claimed he and the brothers were rehearsing the attack, they were actually getting together to smoke marijuana. 

Smollett shocked the court by claiming he ‘made out with’ and ‘masturbated’ with Abimbola Osundairo during a visit to a bathhouse. 

Chicago cops almost immediately had questions about Smollett's story and posited he could be faking it because he feared he was going to be fired from his role on Empire

Chicago cops almost immediately had questions about Smollett’s story and posited he could be faking it because he feared he was going to be fired from his role on Empire 

The Chicago Police Department pointed to the fact that Smollett continued to wear a noose around his neck as they questioned him about the attack as proof he had faked it

The Chicago Police Department pointed to the fact that Smollett continued to wear a noose around his neck as they questioned him about the attack as proof he had faked it

Over the course of the investigation, Chicago police found that the two men Smollett accused of assaulting him were Nigerian brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo, who are black.

Over the course of the investigation, Chicago police found that the two men Smollett accused of assaulting him were Nigerian brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo, who are black.

Smollett’s conviction in December came nearly one year after Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx unexpectedly dismissed Smollett’s charges in March 2019.

Months later, Judge Michael Toomin appointed Dan Webb as a special prosecutor in the case, asking jim to investigate Foxx’s handling of the case and deciding whether Smollett should be convicted even further.

Soon after, Smollett was once again indicted, and a trial ensued.

Eventually, Cook County Judge James Linn ordered the actor to pay more than $120,000 to the city of Chicago, plus a $25,000 fine, and to serve 30 months of probation and 150 days in jail.

Linn accused Smollett at the time of ‘throwing a national pity party for yourself.

‘You’ve turned your life upside down by your misconduct and shenanigans,’ he said, according to the Washington Post. ‘You’ve destroyed your life as you knew it.

‘You wanted to get the attention, and you were so invested in issues of social justice, and you knew this was a sore spot for everybody in this country.’

But in March, an Illinois Appellate Court ordered a stay on Smollett’s jail term and required him to post a personal recognizance bond of $150,000.

He has been free ever since, and has recently doubled down on his claims in an interview with Sway’s SiriusXM show.

Addressing his highly publicized and controversial trial and its aftermath on the Sway's SiriusXM show, Smollett stood by his claims of innocence and insisted he did not lie about his hoax homophobic attack

Addressing his highly publicized and controversial trial and its aftermath on the Sway’s SiriusXM show, Smollett stood by his claims of innocence and insisted he did not lie about his hoax homophobic attack

Smollett said on the show that his moral principles as a black gay man made him incapable of orchestrating the hoax.

‘If I had done this, I’d be a piece of s***. And I don’t think that’s really questionable,’ Smollett said in the episode last week. ‘If I had done something like this, it would mean that I stuck my fist in the pain of black African Americans in this country for over 400 years.’

‘It would mean that I stuck my fist in the fears of the LGBTQ community all over the world. I am not that motherf*****. Never have been. Don’t need to be,’ he added. 

With the benefit of hindsight, Smollett likened his March six-day prison stay at Cook County Jail to a cathartic opportunity he used to ‘reset and regain clarity’ by fasting.

‘My lawyer… he lied when he said I was fasting for lent. I was not fasting for lent. I was fasting because, that’s what we do in my family, we fast for clarity,’ he said. 

Smollett also said he felt compelled to speak about the assault, which was proved to be a hoax in court, because he wanted to help those who didn’t have the resources to stand up by themselves. 

‘Do I feel better than anyone else who has been assaulted? Abso-f******-lutely no, but at the same time, I was just so embarrassed that it happened,’ he said. 

Smollett said that while some of the things that transpired during the trial, such as his drug use, were true, but insisted that he did not pay the perpetrators to assault him in order to gain sympathy from the public. 

Boasting about his career, he claimed he would have never purposely done anything to be characterized as a victim. 

‘I am an actor, a director, a writer, a producer … If I were to do something, it would not be to look like a victim. It would be to look like, if anything, to look strong,’ he said.  

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