Actor Jussie Smollett’s “Empire” castmates called for his return to the show after he was cut from the end of its fifth season — in light of allegations that he staged a hate crime against himself.
Media outlets obtained and published a letter from two of Smollett’s co-stars, Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard, to numerous executives to bring Smollett back to the show. The letter was sent to network leaders including Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier, Fox Entertainment President Michael Thorn, Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment chair Dana Walden, and Danny Strong, the series’ co-creator. The letter was also signed by cast mates Bryshere Y. Gray, Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe and Nicole Ari Parker.
In January, Smollett made headlines when he reported that two men targeted him in a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago, stringing a rope around his neck and dousing him with a chemical substance. Following an investigation by Chicago police and the FBI, the actor was charged in February with filing a false report. In March, Smollett was hit with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct pertaining to the alleged hoax. He pleaded not guilty, and the charges were dropped later that month.
A representative of the show declined to comment on the actors’ appeal.