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Jussie Smollett[3] (/ˈʌsi/ JUSS-ee, born June 21, 1982) is an American actor and singer. He began his career as a child actor in 1987 acting in films including The Mighty Ducks (1992) and Rob Reiner's North (1994). In 2015, Smollett portrayed musician Jamal Lyon in the Fox drama series Empire, a role which was hailed as groundbreaking for its positive depiction of a black gay man on television. Smollett has also appeared in Ridley Scott's science fiction film Alien: Covenant (2017) as Ricks and in Marshall (2017) as Langston Hughes.

Jussie Smollett
Jussie Smollett (26362136311).jpg
Smollett at the 2016 PaleyFest
Born (1982-06-21) June 21, 1982 (age 37)
ResidenceChicago, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation
  • Actor
  • singer
  • songwriter
Years active1991–present
Known forJamal Lyon (Empire)
RelativesJake Smollett (brother)
Jurnee Smollett-Bell (sister)
Musical career
GenresR&B
Labels

Smollett was indicted on February 20, 2019, for disorderly conduct consisting of allegedly paying two Nigerian-American brothers to stage a fake hate crime assault on him and filing a false police report.[4] Smollett's defense team reached a deal with prosecutors on March 26, 2019, in which all charges were dropped in return for Smollett performing community service and forfeiting his $10,000 bond.[5] On March 27, 2019, it was announced that the FBI would be investigating as to why the charges were dismissed.[6]

Contents

Early life

Smollett was born in Santa Rosa, California, the third of six children of Janet (née Harris) and Joel Smollett(1956-2014).[7] He has three brothers and two sisters: Jake, Jocqui, Jojo, Jurnee, and Jazz, several of whom are also actors.[8] Smollett is biracial;[9] his mother is African-American and his father was a Jewish man whose family emigrated from Russia and Poland.[10] He has said that his father would "kill you if you called him white". His father was absent from his life for a significant portion of his childhood.[11] He graduated from Paramus Catholic High School in Paramus, New Jersey.[12] Smollett told his parents he was gay when he was 19.[11]

Career

(video) Smollett talking in a 2018 interview on Sister Circle

Smollett began his acting career as a child, appearing in the films The Mighty Ducks (1992) and Rob Reiner's North (1994). On television, he starred alongside his five real-life siblings in the short-lived ABC sitcom On Our Own from 1994–1995.[13] In 2012, Smollett returned to acting with the leading role in Patrik-Ian Polk's LGBT-themed comedy-drama The Skinny.[14] Also that year, he released an EP titled The Poisoned Hearts Club.[8][15] He later guest-starred on The Mindy Project (2012) and Revenge (2014).[11]

In 2014, Smollett was cast as Jamal Lyon—a gay musician who struggles to gain the approval of his father—opposite Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard in the Fox drama series Empire.[16][17][18] His role was hailed as "groundbreaking" for its positive depiction of a black gay man on television.[19] Smollett reprised his role in subsequent seasons,[20] and directed an episode of the fourth season in 2017.[21]

In February 2015, Smollett confirmed that he had signed a recording contract with Columbia Records and would be releasing an album in the future.[22] Smollett co-wrote the songs "I Wanna Love You" and "You're So Beautiful" on the Original Soundtrack from Season 1 of Empire album, which was released in March 2015.[23]

In June 2015, it was announced that Smollett would guest-star alongside his younger sister, Jurnee, on Underground, which aired in 2016.[24] In March 2018, Smollett released his debut album, Sum of My Music.[25]Sum of My Music is an R&B album that features elements of electronic music and hip hop. Smollett self-released it through his own label, Music of Sound.[26]

On April 30, 2019, it was announced that although Fox Entertainment had extended Smollett's contract for the sixth season of Empire, there were no plans for the character to appear during the season.[27][28]

Personal life

Smollett came out as gay during a televised interview with Ellen DeGeneres in March 2015.[29][30]

In a 2016 interview with Out, he clarified his sexual orientation by stating, "If I had to label myself, I would label myself as a gay man." However, he stated his belief that openness to love is more important than gender, revealing that "If I fall in love down the road with a woman, I'm going to love that woman."[11] When Smollett's gay character from Empire engaged in a tryst with a female character, Smollett defended the plot development by stating that he and Empire's creator Lee Daniels were trying to create a conversation about sexual fluidity in the gay community. Daniels has stated that while he and Smollett are gay, they both occasionally want to have sex with women. Daniels stated that "We're showing life on Empire", in that both he and Smollett were incorporating their own sexual fluidity as gay men into the show.[31]

Smollett lives in Chicago.[32]

Legal issues

2007 misdemeanor conviction for false name

According to the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, Smollett pleaded no contest to providing false information to law enforcement in a 2007 misdemeanor case resulting from a DUI stop in which Smollett gave police a false name and signed his brother's name on the summons promising to appear in court.[33][34] Smollett also pleaded no contest to driving with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit and driving without a valid driver's license,[33] and was sentenced to a fine and two years of probation.[33]

2019 alleged assault

On January 29, 2019, Smollett told police that he was attacked outside his apartment building by two men in ski masks who called him racial and homophobic slurs, and said "This is MAGA country", referencing President Donald Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again"[35] and used their hands, feet, and teeth as weapons in the assault.[36][37] According to a statement released by the Chicago Police Department, the two suspects then "poured an unknown liquid" on Smollett and put a noose around his neck.[38] Smollett said that he fought them off. Smollett was treated at Northwestern Memorial Hospital; not seriously injured, he was released "in good condition" later that morning.[35][39][40] The police were called after 2:30 am;[41] when they arrived around 2:40 am, Smollett had a white rope around his neck.[42] Smollett said that the attack may have been motivated by his criticism of the Trump administration[43] and that he believed that the alleged assault was linked to the threatening letter that was sent to him earlier that month.[34]

On February 20, 2019, Smollett was charged by a grand jury with a class 4 felony for filing a false police report.[44][45][46] The next day, Smollett surrendered himself at the Chicago Police Department's Central Booking station.[47] Shortly thereafter, CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi stated that Smollett "is under arrest and in the custody of detectives".[48] On March 26, 2019, all charges filed against Smollett were dropped, with Judge Steven Watkins ordering the public court file sealed.[5][49] First Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Magats said the office reached a deal with Smollett's defense team in which prosecutors dropped the charges upon Smollett performing 16 hours of community service[50][51][52] and forfeiting his $10,000 bond.[53][54][55] On March 27, 2019, it was announced that the FBI would be investigating as to why the charges were dismissed.[6]

Filmography

Film

Year Film Role Notes
1992 The Mighty Ducks Terry Hall Nominated – Young Artist Award for Outstanding Young Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture
1994 North Adam
2009 Pitch This Mike Short film
2012 The Skinny Magnus
2014 Born to Race: Fast Track Tariq Direct-to-video
Ask Me Anything Nico Dempster
2016 The Tale of Four John Short film
2017 Alien: Covenant – Prologue: Last Supper Ricks Short film
Alien: Covenant
Marshall Langston Hughes

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1991 A Little Piece of Heaven Salem Bordeaux Television film
1993 Alex Haley's Queen Simon Miniseries
1993 Coach Billy Episode: "Piece o' Cake"
1993–1994 Cro Mike Voice, 20 episodes
1994–1995 On Our Own Jesse Jerrico Series regular, 20 episodes
2012 The Mindy Project Barry Stassen Episode: "Josh and Mindy's Christmas Party"
2014 Revenge Jamie Episode: "Ashes"
2015–2019 Empire Jamal Lyon Series regular
Nominated – BET Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Actor: Drama
Nominated – Teen Choice Award for Choice TV: Breakout Star
Directed season 4, episode 16
2016 Underground Josey 2 episodes
2016 Live! with Kelly Himself Guest host, 6 episodes
2017 Star Jamal Lyon Episode: "The Winner Takes it All"
2018 America Divided Himself Episode: "Whose History?"

Music videos

Year Artist Title
2015 Mariah Carey "Infinity"
2016 Jussie Smollett "F.U.W."

Awards and nominations

Year Awards Category Recipient Outcome
1993 Young Artist Award Outstanding Young Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture The Mighty Ducks Nominated
2015 BET Awards Best Actor Empire Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Actor Drama Nominated
Choice TV: Breakout Star Nominated
Choice TV: Chemistry Nominated
Choice Music: Song from a Movie or TV Show "You're So Beautiful" Nominated
2016 NAACP Image Awards[56] Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Empire Nominated
Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration "You're So Beautiful" Won
Outstanding Song Won
Outstanding New Artist Jussie Smollett Won
2017 Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Won
Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Actor Drama Empire Nominated

Discography

Albums

List of studio albums, with selected chart positions and details
Title Album details Peak chart positions
US
Heat.

[57]
Sum of My Music
  • Released: March 2, 2018[58]
  • Label: Music of Sound/Human Re Sources
  • Format: Digital download
22
"—" denotes items which were not released in that country or failed to chart.

Extended plays

Year EP details
2012 Poisoned Hearts Club
  • Released: March 9, 2012[15]
  • Label: Wired Music Media
  • Format: Digital download

Singles

Title Year Peak chart positions Sales Album
US
[59][60]
US
R&B
/HH

[61][62]
US
R&B

[63][64]
US
Adult
R&B

[65][66]
FRA
[67]
GER
[68]
SWI
[69]
AUT
[70]
POR
[71]
BUL
[72][73]
"Good Enough" 2015 [A] 33 13 60 25 55 54 2 40 Empire: Original Soundtrack from Season 1
"Keep Your Money" 99 32 13 181 91
"No Apologies"
(featuring Yazz)
[B] 44 195
"I Wanna Love You" [C] 21
"Money For Nothing"
(featuring Yazz)
[D] 23 94
"You're so Beautiful"
(featuring Yazz)
47 18 10 79 42
"Conqueror"
(featuring Estelle)
42 15 8 15 157 87
"Nothing To Lose" [E] 15
"Powerful"
(featuring Alicia Keys)
[F] 36 10 152 Empire: Original Soundtrack Season 2 Volume 1
"Ain't About the Money"
(featuring Yazz)
39
"No Doubt About it"
(featuring Pitbull)
18
"Chasing the Sky"
(featuring Terrence Howard & Yazz)
2016 [G] 24 Empire: Original Soundtrack Season 2 Volume 2
"Good People"
(featuring Yazz)
[H] 20
"Need Freedom" 30 Empire: Original Soundtrack Season 3
"Freedom" 2018 Sum of My Music
"Catch Your Eye"
(featuring Swizz Beatz)
"Hurt People"
"Ha Ha (I Love You)" 19

Notes

  1. ^ "Good Enough" did not enter the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but peaked at number 6 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart.[74]
  2. ^ "No Apologies" did not enter the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but peaked at number 23 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart.[74]
  3. ^ "I Wanna Love You" did not enter the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, but peaked at number 7 on the Bubbling Under Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[76]
  4. ^ "Money For Nothing" did not enter the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, but peaked at number 9 on the Bubbling Under Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[76]
  5. ^ "Nothing To Lose" did not enter the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but peaked at number 21 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart.[74]
  6. ^ "Powerful" did not enter the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but peaked at number 12 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart.[74]
  7. ^ "Chasing the Sky" did not enter the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, but peaked at number 2 on the Bubbling Under Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[76]
  8. ^ "Good People" did not enter the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, but peaked at number 3 on the Bubbling Under Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[76]

References

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External links