Mario Revisits Losing His Mother To Addiction & Working On ‘Empire’ During Jussie Smollett’s Case

Mario’s success as a musical artist has been a well-deserved journey. However, losing his mother in 2017 is a dark shadow he’s still overcoming.

PEOPLE Magazine chatted with the musician/actor on his recent activities as an R&B star and actor on “Empire.” They also touched on his emotional well-being since his tragic loss. His mom, Shawntia Hardaway, died after a long addiction to heroin.

Mario admitted the effect of watching Shawntia’s battle played a role on him internally. Mainly because being “so close to it” can make “you feel like you’re addicted” too. However, he offered words of encouragement for anyone who faces a similar lifestyle.

“If anyone who may read this or hear this is going through a situation with someone close to them, it’s really important that you take time for yourself to heal and to un-blame yourself. Realize that your love is the most important thing (to) that person because they don’t know how to say it …Even in their choice, we have to love them through it. Sometimes from afar, sometimes when they’re going through the healing process.”

He also divulged on how the working environment felt while the cast went through the whole Jussie Smollet ordeal. While many have been openly supportive of the case, where charges have been dropped, Mario explained everyone seemed to be unbothered professionally.

“In terms of the actual rise and fall of the energy, it’s always shifting all the time. So, I didn’t really feel a huge energy shift there. Everything was pretty normal … I think people were really trying to focus on the art (when) I was there. That’s what I was trying to focus on the whole time.”

Though falls have come his way, rises have been sure to follow. “Empire” is just one of the projects Mario has regained artistic attention. He recently joined the cast of “Rent Live” alongside  Vanessa Hudgens and Tinashe. Not to mention the move of finding himself back on stage thanks to the Millennium Tour starring B2K.


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