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Empire co-creator opens up about "pain and anger" following Jussie Smollett scandal

Sam Warner
Photo credit: Rachel Luna - Getty Images

From Digital Spy

Empire co-creator Lee Daniels has addressed the Jussie Smollett scandal and spoken about his "pain and anger" over the past few weeks.

Smollett was recently indicted by a Grand Jury on 16 felony counts after being accused of staging a fake hate crime in January. The actor has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Speaking about the controversy in an Instagram video yesterday (March 20), Daniels admitted that "these past couple of weeks have been a freakin' rollercoaster".

"We have, me and my cast have experienced pain and anger and sadness and frustration and really don't know how to deal with it," he added, saying that the "incident" happened before the latest episode was made.

Smollett has been suspended from the final two episodes of the current season of the show following the controversy, though last night's (March 20) episode was the third-from-last.

"This is not what the show was made for," Daniels continued. "The show was made to bring America together, to talk about the atrocities happening right now in the streets."

Photo credit: Mark Sagliocco/FilmMagic - Getty Images

The co-creator previously showed solidarity with Smollett before allegations emerged that the attack had been staged, saying: "Hold your head up Jussie. I'm with you. I'll be there in a minute, because it's just another f**king day in America."

Last week, Empire showrunner Brett Mahoney admitted it was "too early" to decide on Smollett's future on the show.

"We have such a strong ensemble and we have so many stories to tell for all of these fascinating characters that it’s bigger than one character, but it’s too early to think about the show without him," he said.

Empire airs on Fox.

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