Comedian Chris Rock roasted Jussie Smollett at the NAACP Image Awards Saturday, days after all the charges against the former Empire actor for allegedly staging a hate crime were dropped.
"They said no Jussie Smollett jokes. I know. What a waste of light skin," Rock told the audience. "You know what I could do with that light skin? That curly hair? My career would be out of here. F—ing running Hollywood."
Rock continued, "What the hell was he thinking? From now on, you’re Jessie from now on. You don’t even get the ‘U’ no more. That ‘U’ was respect. You don’t get no respect from me.”
In January, Smollett claimed he was the victim of a hate crime while walking to his Chicago apartment. However, Chicago police later alleged that the crime was staged and said Smollett was unhappy with his Empire salary. He was charged with 16 felony counts related to lying to police.
On Tuesday, Smollett's attorney surprisingly announced that all 16 charges were dropped and the case dismissed after Smollett completed community service.
"Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions," his attorney said in a statement. "This entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion. That is wrong. It is a reminder that a victim, in this case Jussie, deserves dignity and respect. Dismissal of charges against the victim in this case was the only just result," Smollett's lawyers added."
The decision proved controversial, with First Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Joseph Magats telling reporters he did not believe Smollett was innocent. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also called it a "whitewash of justice" and the decision to drop the charges "politically motivated."
The Chicago Corporation Counsel also sent a letter demanding the actor pay back more than $130,000 for the investigation into the alleged attack.
The FBI is reportedly investigating why the charges were dropped, and a source told Us Weekly "there is an active federal investigation" into how the actor "received an unusually favorable plea deal. Basically, there is a probe to decide whether or not foul play was involved in his bargain with prosecutors."
During a press conference, Smollett insisted he told the truth on "every single level" since he first reported the alleged attack.
"I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I’ve been accused of," the actor claimed. "This has been an incredibly difficult time, honestly one of the worst of my entire life, but I am a man of faith and a man of knowledge of history and I wouldn’t bring my family through this, I just wouldn’t."0comments
Smollett was nominated for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor, but lost to Grey's Anatomy star Jessie Williams.
Photo credit: Earl Gibson III/Getty Images for NAACP