Jussie Smollett sat down with Robin Roberts for his first interview since the alleged racist and homophobic attack on him in January.
Smollett was asked about people questioning his claims: “I have to acknowledge the lies, and the hate. And it feels like if I had said it was a Muslim, or a Mexican, or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me much more. A lot more. And that says a lot about the place that we are in our country right now.”
Asked what bothered him the most about public skepticism over the attack, Smollett replied: “For me, the main thing was the idea that I somehow switched up my story, you know? And that somehow maybe I added a little extra trinket, you know, of the MAGA thing. I didn’t need to add anything like that. They called me a f****t, they called me a n****r. There’s no which way you cut it. I don’t need some MAGA hat as the cherry on top of some racist sundae.”
He later added: “I could only go off of their words. I mean, who says, ‘f****t ‘Empire’ n****r,’ ‘This is MAGA country, n****r,’ ties a noose around your neck, and pours bleach on you? And this is just a friendly fight? It’s unbelievable to me that anything of this has come to this. That every single thing that I have done, every single thing that I have cooperated with, somehow has gotten twisted into being some bull that it’s not.”
He also blasted those who said it was a Grindr date gone wrong: “I’ve heard that it was a date gone bad, which I also resent that narrative. I’m not gonna go out and get a tuna sandwich and a salad to meet somebody. That’s ridiculous. And it’s offensive.”
As for providing phone records to police, which he only did recently, with the result being that the police said the heavily-redacted records were insufficient to help the case, he said: “They wanted me to give my phone to the tech for three to four hours. I’m sorry but — I’m not gonna do that. Because I have private pictures and videos and numbers: my partner’s number, my family’s number, my castmate’s number, my friends’ numbers, my private emails, my private songs, my private voice memos…I don’t know what that’s gonna be, to hand over my phone for — and honestly, by then, inaccurate, false statements had already been put out there.”
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis released a statement in response to Smollett’s interview: “Jussie Smollett was victimized first in a hate-motivated and violent attack in Chicago and has since been doubly victimized as the subject of speculation by the media industry and broader culture. Jussie is rising above hate, racism, homophobia, and doubt surrounding the attack and instead using his voice and talent to fight back against the rising rates of violence against Black and LGBTQ people, as well as those who live at the intersection of those identities. GLAAD joined with Color of Change to condemn the racism and homophobia that fueled the physical violence against Jussie and today we double down on that stance, while also calling out a culture where LGBTQ people of color are too often the last to be believed. Jussie’s experience is sadly not unique in today’s America and we all must lock arms to change that.”
Here’s the GLAAD/Color of Change video: