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Jussie Smollett[2] (born June 21, 1982) is an American actor, singer, director and photographer. He began his career as a child actor in 1987 starring in commercials and films, including The Mighty Ducks (1992) and Rob Reiner's North (1994). In 2015, Smollett attracted international attention and received rave reviews for his portrayal of musician Jamal Lyon in the Fox drama series Empire. Smollett has also appeared in Ridley Scott's science fiction film Alien: Covenant as Ricks and in Marshall as Langston Hughes.

Jussie Smollett
Jussie Smollett 2018.png
Smollett in 2018
Born Justin Smollett[1][2]
(1982-06-21) June 21, 1982 (age 36)
Santa Rosa, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor, singer-songwriter
Years active 1991–present
Known for Jamal Lyon on Empire
Relatives Jake Smollett (brother)
Jurnee Smollett-Bell (sister)
Musical career
Labels Music of Sound[3], Columbia[4]


Early lifeEdit

Smollett was born Justin Smollett[5] in Santa Rosa, California, and is the third of six children born to Janet (née Harris) and Joel Smollett.[6] He has three brothers and two sisters: Jake, Jocqui, Jojo, Jurnee, and Jazz, several of whom are also actors.[7] His father was Jewish (his family emigrated from Russia and Poland). His mother is African-American.[8]


Smollett at the 2016 PaleyFest.

Smollett began his acting career as a child, co-starring 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 1994–95.[9] In 2012, Smollett returned to acting with the leading role in Patrik-Ian Polk's LGBT-themed comedy-drama The Skinny.[10] Also that year, he released an EP album titled The Poisoned Hearts Club.[7][11] He later guest-starred on The Mindy Project (2012) and Revenge (2014).

In 2014, Smollett was cast as Jamal Lyon—a gay musician who struggles to gain his father's approval—opposite Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard in the Fox drama series Empire.[12][13][14] His role was hailed as "groundbreaking" for its positive depiction of a black gay man on television.[15] Smollett reprised his role in subsequent seasons,[16] and directed an episode of the fourth season in 2017.[17]

In February 2015, Smollett confirmed that he had signed a recording contract with Columbia Records and would be releasing an album in the future.[18] 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.[19]

In June 2015, it was announced that Smollett would guest-star alongside his younger sister, Jurnee, on Underground, which aired in 2016.[20]

Personal lifeEdit

Smollett came out as gay during a televised interview with Ellen DeGeneres in March 2015.[21][22]

In a 2016 interview with Out Magazine, Smollett 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."[23] As a boy, Jussie Smollet had some romantic interest in girls.[24] When Smollett's gay character Jamal Lyon from Empire engaged in a heterosexual tryst with a female character, Smollett defended the plot development by stating that he and Empire creator Lee Daniels were trying to create a conversation about sexual fluidity in the gay community. Daniels has stated that "Jussie and I both share the same feeling that, yes, even though we are gay, we're sexual human beings. And we do occasionally want to sleep with a woman." 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 Empire.[25]



Year Film Role Notes
1991 A Little Piece of Heaven Salem Bordeaux Television film
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 [26]
Alien: Covenant
Marshall Langston Hughes


Year Title Role Notes
1993 Alex Haley's Queen Simon Miniseries
1993 Coach Billy Episode: "Piece o' Cake"
1993–94 Cro Mike Voice, 20 episodes
1994–95 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–present 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

2016–17 Underground Josey
2016 Live! with Kelly Himself Guest host, 6 episodes
2017 Star Jamal Lyon Episode: "The Winner Takes it All"

Music videosEdit

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

Awards and nominationsEdit

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[27] 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



  • Sum of My Music (March 2nd 2018)


Title Year Peak chart positions Sales Album


"Good Enough" 2015 106[35] 33 13 60 25 55 54 2[36] 40[37] 83,000[38] Empire Season 1 OST
"Keep Your Money" 99 32 13 181 91 54,000[38]
"No Apologies"
(featuring Yazz)
123[39] 44 195 53,000[38]
"I Wanna Love You" 57[40] 21
"You're so Beautiful"
(featuring Yazz)
47 18 10 79 42
(featuring Estelle)
42 15 8 157 87
(featuring Alicia Keys)
36 10 152 Empire Season 2 Volume 1
"Ain't About the Money"
(featuring Yazz)
"No Doubt About it"
(featuring Pitbull)
"Chasing the Sky"
(featuring Terrence Howard & Yazz)
2016 52[42] 24 Empire Season 2 Volume 2
"Good People"
(featuring Yazz)
"Freedom" 2018 Sum of My Music
"Catch Your Eye"
(featuring Swizz Beatz)
"Hurt People"


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Jurnee Smollett FACEBOOK LIVE Premiere Collectibles". minute 54:30-54:46. Retrieved May 31, 2018.<
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Jussie Smollett: 'I was NOT born in Brazil!!'". Good Day New York. February 13, 2015. 00:11 minutes in. Archived from the original on March 12, 2015. Retrieved March 12, 2015. I was born in northern California. ...[An unspecified source] says Brazil, makes me look really, really exotic and, like, cultured, but actually I was born in Santa Rosa, California. Note: TV Guide erroneously gives Santa Rosa, Brazil.
  7. ^ a b "Jussie Smollett". Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  8. ^ Garmel, Marion (1994-09-06). "You're never on your own in a big family". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved 2011-03-20. (abstract only)
  9. ^ "The '94 TV Season: Who's New and Who's Back". Ebony. Johnson Publishing Company. 49 (12): 27. October 1994. ISSN 0012-9011.
  10. ^ "Fall in Love with Jussie Smollett". The David Bridgeforth Quarterly Magazine. Archived from the original on January 9, 2015. Retrieved January 8, 2015.
  11. ^ "Jussie Smollett's Debut EP CD". March 9, 2012. Archived from the original on October 24, 2014.
  12. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (January 26, 2014). "Taraji P. Henson Nabs Female Lead in Fox's Lee Daniels Hip-Hop Drama 'Empire'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on February 13, 2015. Retrieved January 8, 2015.
  13. ^ Kay, Ariel (January 7, 2015). "Who Is Jamal on 'Empire'? Jussie Smollett Was in Your Favorite '90s Movies & Is Back on Your New Favorite Show". Retrieved January 8, 2015.
  14. ^ Thompson, Arienne (March 3, 2015). "Malik Yoba denies outing 'Empire' co-star as gay". USA Today. Archived from the original on March 10, 2015. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  15. ^ "Being Gay And Black On TV Will Never Be The Same". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  16. ^ Wagmeister, Elizabeth (2017-01-11). "'Empire' Renewed for Fourth Season at Fox". Variety. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  17. ^ "Empire Season 4: A Prince Homage and Jussie Smollett's Directorial Debut". E! News. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  18. ^ "'Empire' star Jussie Smollett discusses Jamal's coming-out". Entertainment Weekly. February 26, 2015. Archived from the original on February 27, 2015. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  19. ^ "Review: Jussie Smollett Wears Crown on 'Empire' Soundtrack". Associated Press. March 10, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  20. ^ Gelman, Vlada; Gelman, Vlada (June 24, 2015). "Empire's Jussie Smollett Heads Underground Opposite Sister Jurnee Smollett-Bell".
  21. ^ Portwood, Jerry (March 9, 2015). "Empire's Jussie Smollett Comes Out to Ellen". Out. Archived from the original on March 10, 2015. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  22. ^ D'Addario, Daniel (March 9, 2015). "'Empire': Why Star Jussie Smollett's Coming-Out Matters". Time. Archived from the original on March 9, 2015. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  23. ^ "Jussie Smollett on How a Black Gay Man Can Save the World". Out Magazine. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  24. ^ Jussie Smollet (guest) (May 11, 2018). The Usher Song That Spoke To Jussie Smollett's Teenage Soul | Soundtracked | TRL. YouTube. Retrieved May 19, 2018.
  25. ^ "Empire Sex Scandal: Lee Daniels and Jussie Smollett Defend That Shocking Hook-Up". TV Insider. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  26. ^ Alien: Covenant | Prologue: Last Supper | 20th Century FOX
  27. ^ "Recording - 'Creed,' 'Empire' Top NAACP Image Award Nominations; Full List".
  28. ^ "Empire Cast - Chart history - Billboard".
  29. ^ "Empire Cast - Chart history - Billboard".
  30. ^ "Empire Cast - Chart history - Billboard".
  31. ^ Hung, Steffen. " - Discographie Jussie Smollett". Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  32. ^ "Suche - Offizielle Deutsche Charts".
  33. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Discographie Jussie Smollett -".
  34. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Discographie Jussie Smollett -".
  35. ^ "Chart Search - Billboard".
  36. ^ "Conqueror by Empire Cast featuring Estelle and Jussie Smollett - Music Charts".
  37. ^ "Good Enough by Empire Cast and Jussie Smollett - Music Charts".
  38. ^ a b c "Why Isn't 'Empire's' Music Topping the Billboard Charts?".
  39. ^ "Chart Search - Billboard".
  40. ^ "Chart Search - Billboard".
  41. ^ "Ain't About The Money by Empire Cast featuring Jussie Smollett and Yazz - Music Charts".
  42. ^ "Chart Search - Billboard".

External linksEdit