Creator of the FOX show “Empire,” Lee Daniels, took to Instagram Wednesday night to express his and the cast’s “pain and anger” in the wake of actor Jussie Smollett’s fallout for allegedly staging an attack for media attention, Yahoo! TV first reported.
Smollett was charged earlier this month on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly staging a hate crime in Chicago.
While Smollett continues to deny the charges, prosecutors maintain that Smollett hired two Nigerian brothers to stage the alleged hate crime hoax. They say the motive behind the incident was to draw media attention so Smollett could argue a salary increase on “Empire” and advance his career.
Daniels on Instagram ahead of Wednesday night’s show -- which awkwardly still features Smollett as a star since he hasn’t been written out yet -- said that the “past couple of weeks have been a freaking roller coaster” and that he and the cast “have experienced pain and anger and sadness and frustration.”
“And [we] really don’t know how to deal with it, you know,” he said.
“This is not what the show was made for,” Daniels continued. “The show was made to bring America together. To talk about the atrocities that are happening right now in the streets.”
He said about Wednesday night's show that “everything ... what you are seeing tonight, [happened] prior to the incident."
FOX and the producers of “Empire” issued a statement in February indicating that Smollett would be removed from the final two episodes of the season as “the process plays out” in court.
Last night’s episode offered no clues as to how they plan on writing his character “Jamal Lyon” out of the show, so fans will just have to wait and see next week what the producers come up with.