People probably remember where they were when the first episode of Empire aired. For once in television history, a prime-time show portraying a powerful black family was taking over the nation, with as its breakout star Jussie Smollett, the triple-threat actor-singer-songwriter giving body and soul to Jamal, Lucius Lyon's repudiated queer son.
As Smollett graces the March issue of Out, we look back on our favorite moments from his cover interview.
He's just a really, really loving guy still waiting for 'the one'
“I have so much love inside that it pains me sometimes,” Smollett says. “You end up finding yourself all-consumed by the issues of the world, and that’s something I don’t want to change about myself. So until the love of my life shows up, until I find my boo, I’m just going to be out, up in this piece, a lone ranger.”
His mom sounds awesome
"She’s a combination of Cookie Lyon and Fräulein Maria from The Sound of Music. We used to march around and imagine that we were the Von Trapp children — we were only one off, cause there’s seven of them."
He's political, especially when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement
“People were telling me, ‘Don’t do it.’ But I felt like, If I lose my career based on this [joining the march], then I don’t need that career [...] I know damn well that this is the career for me, but I don’t know how to turn a blind eye.” He sits forward, emphatic. “You mean to tell me just because I make movies and TV and music that I can’t talk about what’s going on in the world I live in? Really? That’s not fair. Forget that. Because I’m scared that maybe viewership is going to go down? Or my next single isn’t going to do as well? Or I won’t get a movie?" He rolls his eyes. “At some point, I was going to say what I believe anyway.”
He's blunt about his sexuality
“God, I’ve never had to talk about this, so I’m trying to find the words. If I had to label myself, I would label myself as a gay man. With that said, I believe that love is the only thing that matters, and I would hope that anybody would leave themselves open — not to gender, but to love."
He doesn't mind calling out Empire fans for not being excited about Jamal's affair with a woman
“We got a lot of shit for that, and I get it,” he says, while pointing out he would have expected nothing but cheers from the queers if Jamal’s brother Andre had experimented with a guy. “All of these children would be like, ‘Yes! Andre’s gay!’ Jamal didn’t have a problem with kissing Skye Summers [played by Alicia Keys] — the people around him had an issue with it. It’s usually other people’s issues, not our own.”
Click here to read the full cover story.