"Empire" star Jussie Smollett has broken his silence since he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack earlier this week.
On Tuesday, the actor — who is gay and plays a gay character — was allegedly beaten by two men in Chicago who yelled homophobic and racist slurs, then poured an unknown chemical substance on him and wrapped a rope around his neck. Smollett also told police the attackers yelled, "This is MAGA country."
Smollett was hospitalized with injuries at Northwestern and later released.
In a statement given to Essence, Smollett spoke out about his ordeal:
"Let me start by saying that I’m OK. My body is strong but my soul is stronger. More importantly I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words. ”
Chicago police released video surveillance footage of two persons of interest that they are looking for. They are treating the incident as a possible hate crime.
Smollett also addressed claims on social media that he has changed the details of his story.
"I am working with authorities and have been 100 percent factual and consistent on every level. Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served," he said.
"Empire" creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong both issues statements of support to the actor. Production on the Fox drama was shut down on Wednesday, but due to the intense cold. Filming has resumed.
Smollett's family, including sister Jurnee Smollett-Bell (who is starring in the upcoming "Birds of Prey" movie), condemned the attacks and defended him from social media criticism.
Smollett's statement continued, "As my family stated, these types of cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers and non-gender conforming siblings daily. I am not and should not be looked upon as an isolated incident. We will talk soon and I will address all details of this horrific incident, but I need a moment to process. Most importantly, during times of trauma, grief, pain, there is still a responsibility to lead with love. It’s all I know. And that can’t be kicked out of me."