As creator and executive producer or “Empire,” Lee Daniels has been one of Jussie Smollett’s biggest supporters throughout his controversial case.
But now, in a new interview with Vulture Magazine, Daniels shared that he’s “beyond embarrassed” for jumping to the actor’s defense.
Back in January, Smollett made claims that he had been the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime in Chicago. As details of the investigation were revealed, authorities accused Smollett of staging the incident for publicity.
“I’m beyond embarrassed,” the openly gay 59-year-old said. “I think that when it happened, I had a flash of me running from bullies. I had a flash of my whole life, of my childhood, my youth, getting beaten.”
While Daniels stood by Smollett’s side as he maintained his innocence, on Tuesday, he admitted that “there’s some doubt” that the actor was telling the truth.
“Of course, there’s some doubt,” Daniels said. “I’m telling you that because I love him so much. That’s the torture that I’m in right now because it’s literally if it were to happen to your son and your child, how would you feel? You would feel, Please, God, please let there be that glimmer of hope that there is some truth in this story. That’s why it’s been so painful. It was a flood of pain.”
For Daniels, the alleged hoax and connection to Smollett became overwhelming, and he chose to “detach” himself.
“We weren’t there,” Daniels told Vulture. “I can’t judge him. That’s only for the f–king lady or man with that black robe and God. I had to detach myself and stop calling him because it was taking away the time I have for my kids, the time I have for my partner. It was affecting my spirit and other shows, everything.”
As for their relationship on set, Smollett was written out of Season 5 of Empire and Daniels has already confirmed that Smollett won’t be returning next season.