Jussie Smollett Will Make History on Empire in TV's First Black, Gay Wedding
Jussie Smollett and Empire will be making television history this week.
Wednesday’s episode of the Fox drama will feature Jamal (Smollett) and Kai’s (Toby Onwumere) nuptials — the first black, gay wedding to ever air on TV.
“The influence of Empire still extends out well beyond America and it’s culturally relevant and I really appreciate the show for that. In its fifth year, it’s still going — as evidence to the wedding that’s going on, it’s still culturally relevant, so I think it’s beautiful,” Onwumere, 29, told Extra about the monumental episode.
“I think it’s different than what we’ve seen in past seasons of Empire, which is a breath of fresh air,” he continued. “I really love what Kai and Jamal have. I think it’s beautiful.”
The episode comes nearly one month after charges against Smollett, 36, were dropped after he allegedly staged a hate crime.
Smollett told police he’d been attacked on the street in downtown Chicago around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29 by two masked men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs, poured an “unknown chemical substance” on him and placed a rope around his neck.
Smollett was arrested Feb. 20 after an investigation and indicted on 16 counts of disorderly conduct for making false reports.
In March, Smollett, who has faced intense scrutiny and backlash, pleaded not guilty to allegations that he lied to police when he said he was attacked by two men in what authorities later claimed was a staged incident to draw attention to himself.
Police previously accused the star of paying $3,500 to stage a “bogus” attack on himself because he was unhappy with his Empire salary, though a source denied any dissatisfaction with money to PEOPLE.
In late March, all charges were dropped against the star. He then spoke out and insisted that he has been telling the truth about the attack since the very beginning. “I’ve been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one,” he told reporters at the Cook County courthouse in Chicago. “I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of doing what I was accused of.”
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office did not, however, fully retreat from its initial decision to bring charges against Smollett or otherwise address PEOPLE’s inquiry on whether prosecutors still believe he staged the attack, saying in a follow-up statement: “We stand by the Chicago Police Department’s investigation and our approval of charges.”
Earlier this month, Smollett was sued by the City of Chicago after it allegedly spent more than $130,000 “in overtime costs to investigate” his alleged January attack. Smollett’s attorney did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Since the scandal, Onwumere has been in touch with Smollett — “Oh, yeah, I’ve talked to him, and he’s doing well,” he told Extra — though he’s uncertain what will happen to Jamal on the series.
“Look, I am the last person they tell … I have no idea, so we’re waiting to see,” he said.
Despite the ongoing drama — and unforeseen future — Onwumere is standing by his costar and on-screen love interest.
“It’s family business,” Onwumere said, “so we’re all just coming together and supporting one another.”
Costars Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard signed a letter to network executives asking that he be brought back if Empire is picked up for another season, according to Deadline.
“Throughout Empire’s five seasons working with Jussie and watching how he has conducted himself throughout this traumatic event, we have come to know not just the character Jussie portrays, but also truly come to know Jussie’s personal character,” the cast wrote. “He is kind. He is compassionate. He is honest and above all he is filled with integrity.”
Empire airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on Fox.
Source: Read Full Article