Disgraced actor Jussie Smollett professed his innocence and insisted he was “not a piece of shit”.
Smollett, who paid two men to pose as racist and homophobic supporters of Donald Trump and attack him with a noose and bleach, was released from a Chicago jail in March after serving a six-day sentence.
The 40-year-old actor opened up about his highly publicized trial on Sway Calloway’s SiriusXM show Sway in the Morning and claimed he didn’t lie about the attack.
“If I did that, I’d be a piece of shit. And I don’t think that’s really questionable,” Smollett said in the episode, which aired Monday.
Smollett – best known for his role as Jamal Lyon on Fox’s Empire – said he was unable to stage the attack because he was a black gay man.
“If I had done something like that, I would have stuck my fist in the pain of black African Americans in this country for over 400 years,” he told Sway.
“That would mean putting my fist into the fears of the LGBTQ community around the world. I’m not that motherf—uh. Never been. Does not have to be.”
Smollett appeared to wipe sweat from his brow several times throughout the interview and said he used his six-day stint in the Cook County Jail as an opportunity to “reset and gain clarity” through fasting.
“I did not fast during Lent. I fasted because that’s what we do in my family, we fast for clarity,” he said, adding that he’s “never been as clear as I have been in those six and a half days.”
The actor said the support he received from his family, particularly his mother, got him through his week behind bars.
“My family – the most wonderful people – I live and die for these people. Let me tell you something mom, don’t go anywhere. Mom is a domestic cat.
“She said, ‘Watch me stay in LA and my baby is in Chicago.’ She didn’t play,” he said, fighting back tears.
Smollett spoke about his experience of being locked in a cell for six days and said he was thrown into a psychiatric ward.
“God knows I wanted out. I was in a psychiatric ward … I slept on a restraining bed, but I wasn’t restrained,” he said.
“I have to be honest, everyone inside was very nice and when I left I thanked them all. I said, ‘I don’t know what you guys think either way, but the fact that you didn’t let me know what you guys thought either way and just showed me respect, I’m grateful for that.'”
Smollett said he was forced to “indulge” during his short stint in prison.
“There’s something about being in there, and you have no choice but to surrender. Not to the system, not to a judge, or a bunch of old white men ironically telling you hate crime history, but you surrender to yourself,” he said. “You are left with only you, your thoughts and these walls.”
“I believe the prison system needs to be dismantled,” he added.
Smollett was initially sentenced to five months in prison after being convicted on five counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police. After being found guilty, he was ordered to pay the City of Chicago $120,000 in damages and a $25,000 fine.
Defense attorneys argued that Smollett was unconstitutionally charged with the same crime twice after Cook County prosecutors initially agreed to dismiss his case in 2019.
During the interview with Sway, Smollett’s friend and “B-Boy Blues” co-star, Brandee Evans, joined in the fun and gushed about her friendship with the troubled actor.
“That really is my friend,” Evans said. “I love Justie. Jussie was my ride or die. When my ex-husband left me, I was literally at Jussie’s house. I love my boyfriend, he’s been through everything with me.”
Smollett rose to fame at a young age, landing roles in films like The Mighty Ducks and North by the age of 10.
The California-born child star starred alongside his five real siblings on ABC’s On Our Own from 1994-1995.
Smollett later landed a starring role in Patrik-Ian Polk’s LGBT comedy-drama The Skinny.
After making his name known in Hollywood, the actor guest-starred in 2012’s The Mindy Project and 2014’s Revenge.
Later that year, Smollett landed the role of her life in Empire opposite Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard. His character was cut from the final two episodes of the show’s fifth season due to his hate crime controversy.