Lee Daniels Says He’s “Beyond Embarrassed” About Jussie Smollett Scandal: ‘It Was A Flood Of Pain’

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.

Lee Daniels on Jussie
(Photo by Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images)

About Retonjah Burdette

Retonjah Burdette is a publicist and published content curator from Atlanta, Georgia. After receiving her Bachelor’s in Public Relations from Georgia Southern University in 2017, Burdette then went on to get field experience with one of the top entertainment PR firms in Atlanta. Since the start of her career, Burdette has worked with a number of actors, authors, entrepreneurs and independent artists. She has secured placements on media outlets such as TV One’s Sister Circle, Good Day Atlanta on FOX, V-103, CBS 46, Kontrol Magazine, KISS 104.1 and Rolling Out to name a few. In addition to her growth in PR, she is currently a writer for Baller Alert, a top platform for news and entertainment. In hopes of bringing the visions of others to life, she launched Girl Avant-Garde in 2019, a creative agency specializing in innovative content, branding and PR in entertainment. Her overall goal is to have autonomy over her creative thought process and to teach branding to new entrepreneurs and others pursuing a career in the public eye.

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