Ahead of her star turn in HBO’s Lovecraft Country, Jurnee Smollett is addressing the scandal surrounding her brother Jussie, the Empire star accused of staging a 2019 hate crime against himself. Talking to The Hollywood Reporter about her Lovecraft Country role, she spoke about the event and its fallout for the first time. “It’s been fucking painful, one of the most painful things my family’s ever experienced — to love someone as much as we love my brother, and to watch someone who you love that much go through something like this, that is so public, has been devastating,” she said. “I was already in a very dark space for a number of reasons, and I’ve tried to not let it make me pessimistic. But everyone who knows me knows that I love my brother and I believe my brother.”
After the allegedly faked hate crime, Jussie was at one point indicted on 16 counts related to lying to police, all of which he pleaded not guilty to and were later dropped against him. He was later removed from the sixth and final season of Empire. This February, Jussie pleaded not guilty to six new counts of disorderly conduct.