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Jussie Smollett opens up about regrets, public ridicule and Taraji P. Henson in first post-prison interview

Karu F. Daniels, New York Daily News on

Published in News & Features

Jussie Smollett is setting the record straight.

The embattled “Empire” star is out of jail and on the rebound after the career-derailing scandal which resulted in him being sentenced to 150 days in prison on the five-felony-count disorderly conduct conviction in March.

During his first post-prison interview on SiriusXM’s “Sway in the Morning” Tuesday, Smollett discussed regret about the infamous “Good Morning America” exclusive, his time in jail, claims he staged the attack as a publicity stunt, and how Taraji P. Henson continued to support him.

The near hour-long interview with host Sway Calloway pales in comparison to the last major media opportunity on “Good Morning America” in February 2019 following the alleged incident, where he claimed to be victim of a racist, anti-gay attack in downtown Chicago.

In hindsight, he said he regretted interviewing with Robin Roberts.

“I didn’t wanna do an interview. You know what I’m saying? And I don’t wanna get too deep, you know, because I love and respect Robin Roberts… but I did not want to do that interview,” Smollett revealed.


“I hadn’t watched the interview at all until we were on trial and I had to watch it because they were trying to use the interview as evidence of lies or whatever. So, I had to watch it and I watched it and I was mortified…I cringed… every single word that I said in that interview was the truth, but there was a certain level of performative nature that came from it because I didn’t want to be there.”

The openly gay actor said his own internalized homophobia brought on shame and embarrassment.

“As an openly gay Black man who leads with his Blackness … I wanted to represent all of us that had been assaulted based on who we are … But I also didn’t wanna be associated with people who had been attacked. I’m genuinely sorry to say this, but this is the way that I felt, I don’t feel that way anymore, but I know that that’s the way that I felt, I felt like, I felt like I just became a (gay slur) that got his ass beat.”

As far as the scuttlebutt that he staged a hate crime for attention, the former publicity agent slammed that notion.


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