Actor and recording artist Jussie Smollett, who stars on the Fox hit “Empire,” which debuted its fourth season this week, had a lot to get off his chest this Monday in an interview with me on SiriusXM Progress.
The openly gay actor, who plays the openly gay performer Jamal Lyon on the hit show, slammed Donald Trump; said NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick is “very patriotic”; hailed what he sees as the profound “power” of the Resistance; had some choice words for white gay men who might think they’ve arrived; and affectionately called his character a “ho.”
And that was just the beginning.
“He’s a pig, a racist, a horrible human being,” Smollet said of Trump, moments into a discussion regarding the president’s attack last weekend on NFL players such as Kaepernick taking the knee in protest of police brutality ― an attack that only galvanized many in the sports world further.
“To me Colin Kaepernick is very patriotic,” Smollet said. “He’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing as a citizen of this country. If anything, sadly, the person who was falsely elected to be president of the United States is actually the least patriotic person that we’ve seen in a long time.”
“What I’m very confused about is that, freedom of speech, if you’re a white supremacist, if you’re a hateful asshole, then suddenly it’s like, ‘but he’s a fine guy,’” Smollet continued. “But when it comes to a man simply kneeling for a song ― that’s a racist song to begin with ― suddenly that’s unpatriotic. That doesn’t make sense when you say it out loud. ”
Smollet, however, believes deeply in the force of the Resistance to push back against Trump.
“It’s a cliché but the power of the people is stronger than the people in power,” he said. “And we are in power. Look at the conversation... Of course, it’s hard, but you must remember: We’re fighting the same things our parents and our grandparents and our great grandparents were fighting against. But let us not forget that we have it better the our parents, our grandparents and our great grandparents had it. Let’s utilize what we have to come together. And I think that is what we’re seeing.”
Expanding on those thoughts, Smollett also had some choice words for white gay men who may have thought they’d won the right to marry and were now equal to everyone else.
“I hear so many people being like, ’Oh my god, it’s the end of the world!’” Smollet exclaimed. “No, I think it’s more like a new world order. Like a new form of consciousness that people are going to be forced to have. That, somehow, white gay men are no longer going to be able to be like, ‘Well, I got the right to get married, so now, in actuality, on paper, I’m on the same level as a heterosexual white man.’ No, you not, boo. No, you not. They don’t like your ass. They don’t like me. Let’s keep it real. If we all were to come together ― and that means people of color, and that means Muslims, Jews, Christians, buddhists, LGBTQ community, disabled people, immigrants, whomever ― if we all came together, our marginalized groups ― they want to call us minorities, at the end of the day we’d be a majority.”
Discussing “Empire” and the role he plays as recording artist Jamal Lyon, Smollet reflected playfully about Jamal’s relationships in season three. Jamal had become the love interest of then-closeted hip-hop producer D-Major (played by Tobias Truvilliion), who came out live on social media to profess his love for Jamal only to walk in on Jamal and therapist Phillip Barret (played by Juan Antonio) naked on the couch. By the end of the season, Jamal is flirting with attorney and aspiring musician Warren DuBois (played by Terrell Carter), who becomes a love interest in season four.
“I don’t know if we’ve seen the last of any of them,” Smollet said coyly. “I can’t say that we have not seen the last of [Juan Antonio], but I can’t say that we have. But listen: Jamal’s a ho, and Jamal’s the worst kind of ho because Jamal is a ho who doesn’t think he’s a ho. We all know that [type] – I’ve been there before.”
But he did let on that Warren will play a major part in Jamal’s life throughout this season.
“This time around Jamal genuinely feels he has found the one,” Smollet explained, but also added that, “Warren is not a good person.”
Whatever way Jamal ultimately handles Warren DuBois remains to be seen. But in real life we know Jussie Smollet doesn’t put up with anyone who’s “not a good person.” And, in these times, I’m enormously grateful for that.