Lee Daniels Says ‘Empire’ Cast Has Felt ‘Pain and Anger and Sadness and Frustration’ Amid Jussie Smollett Scandal

“This is not what the show was made for. The show was made to bring America together,” co-creator says

Lee Daniels Jussie Smollett
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“Empire” co-creator spoke out about the emotional distress affecting the show’s cast and crew amid star Jussie Smollett’s ongoing criminal case surrounding the allegedly fake attack from earlier this year.

“These past couple of weeks have been a freaking roller coaster,” Daniels said in an Instagram video posted hours before the airing of Wednesday’s episode. “Me and my cast have experienced pain and anger and sadness and frustration and really don’t know how to deal with it you know?”

Smollett appeared in court last week to plead not guilty to 16 counts of disorderly conduct after being accused of lying to police regarding a Jan. 29 incident, in which he said he was randomly attacked by two men shouting racial and homophobic slurs in his Chicago neighborhood.

Police have accused Smollett of paying two men to stage the attack because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on the show. Smollett has denied any wrongdoing.

“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.”

Daniels also clarified that the currently airing episodes of “Empire” were produced before Smollett’s arrest.

The show’s producers have previously said they would remove his character from the then yet-to-be-filmed final two episodes of the season, airing later this spring.