Weeks after being attacked in Chicago, “Empire” star Jussie Smollett sat down for his first TV interview.
Smollett detailed his attack in an exclusive interview with “Good Morning America.” According to Jussie, he was on the phone with his manager when he was punched in the face by an attacker, and retaliated by punching back. He continued, “We started tussling… it was very icy. We ended up tussling by the stairs, fighting, fighting, fighting. There was a second person involved who was kicking me in my back — and then it just stopped.”
It wasn’t until the attackers ran off that Jussie noticed the “rope around my neck.” As for why he didn’t notice it before, Jussie explained, “It was so fast,” adding about the attack, “It felt like minutes but it was probably like 30 seconds.”
Jussie admitted he is “pissed off” at doubters of his story. He said, “It's like, you know, at first, it was a thing of, like, 'Listen, if I tell the truth then that's it, 'cause it's the truth.' Then it became a thing of like, 'Oh, how can you doubt that? Like, how do you — how do you not believe that? It's the truth.' And then it became a thing of like, 'Oh, it's not necessarily that you don't believe that this is the truth, you don't even want to see the truth.'”
When asked why he hesitated calling the police after the incident, Smollett explained, “There's a level of pride there. We live in a society where, as a gay man, you are considered, somehow, to be weak, and I'm not weak. I am not weak. And we, as a people, are not weak."
After the incident, police released a images of two persons of interest wanted for questioning. For the first time, Smollett affirmed he believes the shadowy figures are his attackers. He said, “I was there. For me, when that was released, I was like, 'Okay, we are getting somewhere.' I don't have any doubt in my mind that that's them. I never did."
Jussie also explained why he didn’t want to hand over his phone to police, saying, “I have private pictures and videos and numbers. My partner’s number, my family’s numbers, my castmates’ numbers, my friends’ numbers, my private emails, my songs.”
Of the aftermath, the 36-year-old said, “I will never be the man that this did not happen to. I am forever changed. I don't subscribe to the idea everything happens for a reason, but I do subscribe to the idea that we have the right and the responsibility to make something meaningful out of the things that happen to us, good and bad."
The Chicago Police Department's Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi has also given an update on the investigation, tweeting that through a "meticulous" investigation, "Detectives have identified the persons of interest in the area of the alleged attack of the Empire cast member. These individuals are not yet suspects but were in area of concern and are being questioned. Investigation continues."