Stars are standing behind Empire star Jussie Smollett after he was hospitalized following a homophobic and racist attack in Chicago early Tuesday morning, according to Chicago police.
Two unidentified offenders yelled homophobic and racial slurs at the 35-year-old actor, physically attacked him, poured an “unknown chemical substance” on him, and put a rope around his neck, police added, per CNN. Smollett brought himself to Northwestern Hospital and is in “good condition,” authorities revealed.
A spokesperson for the Chicago PD later confirmed that Smollett told detectives in a follow-up interview that his assailants yelled “MAGA country,” referencing Donald Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again.” TMZ first reported the assault.
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Smollett’s reps have not yet publicly responded to the news. The actor has been on Empire since 2015 and portrays Jamal Lyon, the middle son of hip-hop tycoon Lucious (Terrence Howard) and Cookie (Taraji P. Henson). Both Smollett and his character Jamal are gay.
After news broke of Smollett’s assault, fans, supporters, co-stars, and more flocked to his defense online.
Fellow Empire star Vivica A. Fox tweeted that she’s “so angry and hurt” about news of the attack. “THIS MUST STOP!!” she added. “SPREAD LOVE NOT HATE! PRAYERS UP TO U NEPHEW!”
I'm just now hearing the news about the senseless hate attack on my #EMPiRE Nephew @JussieSmollett IM SO ANGRY AND HURT ABOUT THIS! THIS MUST STOP!! SPREAD LOVE NOT HATE! PRAYERS UP TO U NEPHEW! 😢😢🙇🏾♀️🙇🏾♀️ pic.twitter.com/p4GqfNW3An
— Vivica A. Fox (@MsVivicaFox) January 29, 2019
John Legend tweeted, “Sending love to Jussie and the Smollett family after this horrific attack. We support you and pray that you find peace and justice.”
Sending love to Jussie and the Smollett family after this horrific attack. We support you and pray that you find peace and justice.
— John Legend (@johnlegend) January 29, 2019
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Kerry Washington wrote, “DEAR GOD! Prayers and justice for Jussie Smollett.”
DEAR GOD! Prayers and justice for Jussie Smollett.
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) January 29, 2019
Lee Daniels, director and Empire co-creator, posted a tearful message on Instagram condemning the hate crimes against the actor and sending him messages of hope
Empire co-creator Danny Strong also spoke out, praising Smollett and denouncing racism and homophobia.
I’m deeply horrified and saddened by the racist and homophobic attacks against @JussieSmollett. He is a kind and profoundly talented soul whom I respect with all my heart. The terror of racism and homophobia has no place in our society, it is the most indecent way to live…
— Danny Strong (@Dannystrong) January 29, 2019
Janet Mock shared her love for the actor on Twitter.
WE LOVE YOU, @JussieSmollett ! ! !
— Janet Mock (@janetmock) January 29, 2019
20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment released a statement saying they’re “deeply saddened and outraged” to hear that Smollett was “viciously attacked.”
Statement from 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment: pic.twitter.com/tlpw7saMul
— Brendon Geoffrion (@tv_brendon) January 29, 2019
The LGBTQ organization GLAAD also released a statement saying they reached out to Fox and Smollett’s team offering any help needed.
Our hearts are with @JussieSmollett today. This attack must be investigated thoroughly. According to @antiviolence, the severity of hate violence against LGBTQ people is increasing: https://t.co/hN0yNJEmov https://t.co/acWmjzBBzW
— GLAAD (@glaad) January 29, 2019
Other public figures also spoke up:
— Zendaya (@Zendaya) January 29, 2019
This is a sickening and outrageous attack, and horribly, it's the latest of too many hate crimes against LGBTQ people and people of color. We are all responsible for condemning this behavior and every person who enables or normalizes it. Praying for Jussie and his family. https://t.co/eylvxhLT0u
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) January 29, 2019
god bless jussie may he have all the support he needs healing from this.
hella speechless. no words.
— Kehlani (@Kehlani) January 29, 2019
This is horrific. What kind of country do we live in. https://t.co/unvzWmo6XD
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 29, 2019
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) January 29, 2019
— Amanda Seales 🇬🇩 (@amandaseales) January 29, 2019
— Ike Barinholtz (@ikebarinholtz) January 29, 2019
Sending my love and prayers to you @JussieSmollett . This is unacceptable and they will be brought to justice.
— Matt Bomer (@MattBomer) January 29, 2019
— Margaret Cho (@margaretcho) January 29, 2019
.@JussieSmollett is one of the fiercest people I know. This hatred won’t stop his championing for a better world. If anything, it will probably motivate him more. It has me.
— Jackée Harry (@JackeeHarry) January 29, 2019
Please send all your love to @JussieSmollett today. And please teach your children the basic tenets of love, kindness, and respect for all human beings.
— Mark Duplass (@MarkDuplass) January 29, 2019
This is why holding “a little homophobic joke” accountable is taken so FREAKING SERIOUSLY. To quote @amandaseales, you have to be overly confident…black gay men have to deal w/ not only racism but homophobia.” It is always abt duality and a form of respect. @JussieSmollett 🖤🖤 https://t.co/vzyZMzNHWB
— Ryan Jamaal Swain (@RyanJamaal) January 29, 2019
.@JussieSmollett is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I’m praying for his quick recovery.
This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 29, 2019
Racism, homophobia, & all forms of bigotry & hate have no place in this country. The fight for equality isn’t over – no one should have to live in fear of being beaten on the street because of who they are. https://t.co/CF0G95CkTc
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) January 29, 2019
The vicious attack on actor Jussie Smollett was an attempted modern-day lynching. I'm glad he's safe.
To those in Congress who don't feel the urgency to pass our Anti-Lynching bill designating lynching as a federal hate crime– I urge you to pay attention. https://t.co/EwXFxl5f2m
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) January 29, 2019
1/3 – I’ve known Jussie since he was 10 years old, and a man of @JussieSmollett’s talent, intellect and kindness should be an undisputed blessing to our community. My heart is hurting knowing that he’s suffering…and for what? Just for being?
— Halle Berry (@halleberry) January 29, 2019
OMG!! THIS is why the LGBTQ community continue to fight to be seen and PROTECTED against hate!
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) January 29, 2019
Sending love, healing, and support to @jussiesmollett. We ALL have a responsibility to rise up against the ignorance and hate out there. If you know who did this, REPORT THEM TO THE POLICE. https://t.co/Q0PZdMeDtZ pic.twitter.com/XlkGbvUTIC
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) January 29, 2019
Hard to focus on anything but anger. So much love for Jussie. 💔
— Jordan Peele (@JordanPeele) January 29, 2019
Four years ago, @JussieSmollett came out on my show. I’m sending him and his family so much love today. ❤️
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) January 29, 2019
This post originally appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR US