'Empire' Co-Creator Sends Support to Jussie Smollett in Wake of Apparent Hate Crime

Lee Daniels spoke out about Empire star Jussie Smollet's brutal attack in Chicago, nearly breaking in tears during his statement.

The Empire co-creator took to Instagram a few hours after the news of Smollet's attack in Chicago — where the Fox drama series films — first broke, addressing the actor in a message of strength.

"It's taken me a minute to speak on social media about this because Jussie, you are my son," Daniels said in a video posted to Instagram. "You didn't deserve, nor anybody deserves, to have a noose put around your neck. To have bleach thrown on you, to be told "die fa—t, n-a, or whatever they said to you.

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"You are better than that, we are better than that, America is better than that," Daniels continued, as he became visibly emotional. "It starts at home yo, we have to love each other regardless of what sexual orientation we are... because it shows that we are united, on a united front. And no racist f-k can come in and do the things they did to you."

He ended his statement addressing Smollett directly, saying: "Hold your head high Jussie, I'm with you I'll be there in a minute. It's just another f-ing day in America."

Smollett was hospitalized early Tuesday after he was attacked around 2 a.m. by two men wearing ski masks.

According to police reports the men allegedly placed a noose around the actor's neck during the attack. After the attack, Smollett transported himself to Northwestern Memorial Hospital to receive treatment for his injuries and has reportedly already been released.

Police are investigating the attack as a hate crime.

20th Century Fox issued its own statement on the crime Tuesday, writing: "We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our EMPIRE family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night. We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice."

The studio added, "The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate — and especially against one of our own."

Series co-creator Danny Strong also spoke out on the vicious attack, addressing the perpetrators directly.


"Whoever did this, do not forget that you are nothing but hate filled cowards while Jussie's talent and activism will continue to shine a bright light on to the world for decades to come," he said.

Empire is set to return for the second half of Season 5 this spring on Fox.