Fallen ‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett has defiantly declared he’s ‘not a piece of shit’ after ‘getting clear’ during his recent mini-prison stint – but many viewers at the 2022 BET Awards aren’t ready to let him go just hook.
Smollett, 40, made his controversial return on the red carpet at the Microsoft Theater on Sunday in Los Angeles – after being paroled in March while serving just six days of his 150-day sentence on five counts of disorderly conduct at Chicago’s Cook County Jail in March.
The 2015 BET Best Actor nominee was reportedly there to hype his directorial debut with the BET+ streaming flick B-Boy Blues — but he also announced some other big plans.
“It’s always been the plan to sort of expand my empire,” Smollett told the local press corps, the Daily Mail reported. “To raise the level of what I want to do. I’ve had the privilege of directing several episodes of the show as well as my music videos, all of which I directed.”
And despite his high-profile fall — he was convicted of paying two men posing as racist homophobic MAGA supporters to attack him with a noose and bleach — Smollett still seems to regard himself as a role model of sorts for the youth .
“But to be able to just usher in a new generation of performers of actors with this amazing talent that has so much to talk about out there,” Smollett told reporters. “That feeds me.”
Many social media watchdogs didn’t feel it right away, with thousands of people following makes it a trending topic on Twitterexpressing everything from general disbelief to open outrage.
“It’s crazy how Jussie Smollett is walking around showing his face like this situation never happened.” offered one of the more polite commentators.
“Who let Jussie Smollett in? #BETA awards?”, another tweet critic sneered, resulting in dozens of retweets and hundreds of likes. “This Na faked a hate crime and blamed it on whites and got a slap on the hand for it. If you have money, regardless of race, you have privilege.”
Another twit joke chimed in with, “Everybody’s watching Jussie Smollett on the red carpet.” Post accompanied by a vintage photo by Jay-Z and Beyoncé looking horrified.
“God these random cuts to Jussie Smollett are making me really uncomfortable,” @sleepymaserati commented, apparently something the thoughts the show’s most generous viewers.
Meanwhile, an outraged anti-fan brutally got to the point: “Not Jussie Smollet trying to reinstate that black card #BETAwards #redcarpet,” viewer @iMjustkinji tweeted.
Unfortunately, Smollett’s comeback project, B-Boy Blues – an adaptation of James Earl Hardy’s novel – will premiere on streaming platform BET+ on July 9th. It is billed as his feature film directorial debut after helping out two episodes of his previous Lee Daniels series Empire in 2018.
The actor, singer and former “Mighty Ducks” child star, who starred as Jamal Lyon on FOX’s Lee Daniels hit “Empire” from 2015 until his firing amid public backlash in 2019, also promised his fans that he “absolutely” intends to drop something “very, very good music very soon.”
In an interview with Sway Calloway’s SiriusXM show Sway in the Morning last week, Smollett – who is currently appealing his conviction – maintained his innocence and insisted he did not 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 told Sway, adding that he was unable to stage the attack because he’s a black gay man be. “If I did something like that, it would mean putting my fist in the pain of black African Americans in this country for over 400 years.”