Actor/Singer Jussie Smollett was excluded from the final episodes of season 5 of ‘Empire,’ after being charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct in the January hate crime attack he claimed to be a victim of. Show production without one of the lead Lyon’s seemed to be too much for the cast, and they decided to speak up for their friend and co-star, pleading for his return to the show in season 6.
According to Deadline, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, Bryshere Y. Gray, Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe and Nicole Ari Parker all signed a letter dated April 19th, addressed to the top dawgs of the show, including Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier, Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment chair Dana Walden, Fox Entertainment President Michael Thorn, as well as Empire creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong.
The letter read, “Together, as a united front, we stand with Jussie Smollett and ask that our co-star, brother, and friend be brought back for our sixth season of Empire.”
“We understand the past months have been difficult to process – sometimes the headlines brought more confusion than clarity, yet we now have a conclusion to the ordeal,” it continued. ”Throughout Empire‘s five seasons working with Jussie and watching how he has conducted himself throughout this traumatic event, we have come to know not just the character Jussie portrays, but also truly come to know Jussie’s personal character.”
“He is kind. He is compassionate. He is honest, and above all, he is filled with integrity,” the letter added. “He is also innocent and no longer subject to legal uncertainty with the criminal charges against him having been dropped. We are confident in his lawyer’s assurance that the case was dismissed because it would not have prevailed.”
The letter concluded with a plea to keep him in the cast “so that we can all put this behind us and move forward. Thank you for taking time to hear us. It’s our hope that together we will move on into our sixth season as the Empire family should.”