Jussie Smollett: 'Empire' Executives Doubt Actor Was Motivated by Salary

It's been alleged that Empire actor Jussie Smollet was motivated to fake a hate-crime attack because of salary issues, but series executives doubt that was the case.

When Chicago police spoke during a press conference last week, they shared that they believed Smollett was dissatisfied with his Empire salary, and implied that they suspected he intended to use the notoriety he gained from the faux-attack to leverage for more money.

According to TMZ, sources from the show say that if this was the reason, he never suggested to anyone involved with Empire that this was the case. Reportedly, no one ever heard him complain abut his salary.

Smollett was reportedly making $125,000 per episode, and was in the middle of a long-term contract. The insiders also explained that neither Smollett nor his reps made moves to get the actor a bigger payday.

The outlet notes, however, that Smollett's music career was his main focus as of late, and that he had been upset that his first album did not do as well as he was hoping it would.

Following his arrest on charges of filing a false police reports, Smollett was dropped from Empire for the remainder of the season. Producers of the series issued a joint statement regarding their decision, explaining that it was a tough call to make.

"The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us" read the statement from Empire executives Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer that was published by Variety.

"Jussie has been an important member of our Empire family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of 'Jamal' from the final two episodes of the season," the statement continued.

Smollett's legal team also issued a statement on his case, following his bail hearing and release, taking time to reaffirm his declaration of innocence.

"Mr. Smollet is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing," the statement began.

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"Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system. The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election," the statement added.

If he is convicted, Smollett potentially faces up to three years in prison for filing a false police report.