Though the cast and crew of Empire are gearing up for their sixth and final season, they are officially planning on moving forward without Jussie Smollett.
Creator Lee Daniels set the record straight on his Twitter on Tuesday. He responded to an article claiming Smollett would be returning to the show and tweeted, “This is not factual. Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire.”
Smollett was written out of the final episodes of the fifth season following backlash after he was accused of staging his own hate crime earlier this year in Chicago.
Though the charges were dropped against Smollett, there are many people out there who believe he is guilty and wanted to see him off the show.
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While fans are divided, Smollett’s cast members wrote a letter back in April asking executives to bring the actor back to the show.
“Together, as a united front, we stand with Jussie Smollett and ask that our co-star, brother and friend be brought back for our sixth season of Empire,” the letter said that was obtained by Deadline.
“That is why we write today to ask you to keep Jussie on the cast so that we can all put this behind us and move forward. Thank you for taking time to hear us. It’s our hope that together we will move into our sixth season as the entire Empire family should.”
The letter was signed by Taraji P. Henson (Cookie), Terrence Howard (Lucious), Bryshere Y. Gray (Hakeem), Trai Byers (Andre), Gabourey Sidibe (Becky), and Nicole Ari Parker (Giselle).
Now that the show has officially decided to move forward without Smollett, it’ll be interesting to see how they write him out of the show. Will Jamal simply not return from his honeymoon? Will something happen to him while he’s away? Guess fans will have to tune in next fall to find out.