Lee Daniels was as staunch supporter of his friend Jussie Smollett after news broke of his alleged attack. And why wouldn’t he be? After all Lee is the co-creator and executive producer of Empire, the show in which Jussie stars. The two became friends over the years and you support your friends.
Now, Lee is speaking out in an interview with Vulture about how he reacted to the news and the defense of his friend.
“I’m beyond embarrassed,” Daniels said. “I think that when it happened, I had a flash of me running from bullies. I had a flash of my whole life, of my childhood, my youth, getting beaten.”
However, while the producer/director regrets his actions, he still has some doubt as to whether or not the attack was a hoax perpetrated by Jussie, saying it would be a huge betrayal “If it turned out that he did it, was guilty, and all of it’s accurate.”
“Of course, there’s some doubt,” Lee added. “I’m telling you that because I love him so much. That’s the torture that I’m in right now, because it’s literally if it were to happen to your son and your child, how would you feel? You would feel, ‘Please, God, please let there be that glimmer of hope that there is some truth in this story.’ That’s why it’s been so painful. It was a flood of pain.”
As a result of the scandal, Jussie was written out of the last two episodes of season five of Empire and will not be included in the series final season 6. What’s next for Jussie remains to be seen, but Lee will leave that judgement up to others.
“We weren’t there. I can’t judge him,” Lee said. “That’s only for the f**king lady or man with that black robe and God. I had to detach myself and stop calling him, because it was taking away the time I have for my kids, the time I have for my partner. It was affecting my spirit and other shows, everything.”
Season 6 of Empire will be it’s final season.