The self-professed ‘gay Tupac’ took to the set of Good Morning America early today to give his very first public account of what happened to him on the streets of Chicago.
Smollett reveals to ABC’s Robin Roberts that he is “forever changed” in the aftermath of what has been reported as a hate crime. He also shares his account of what transpired and why he refused to turn over his cell phone.
Details + video of Jussie Smollett’s Good Morning America interview below…
As previously reported, the EMPIRE actor told authorities he was attacked early January 29 by two men who were “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs.” He said one attacker put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him.
Smollett hit “Good Morning America” Thursday morning to speak publicly about the incident, stating:
I will never be the man that this did not happen to.
I am forever changed. I don’t subscribe to the idea everything happens for a reason, but I do subscribe to the idea that we have the right and the responsibility to make something meaningful out of the things that happen to us, good and bad.
He said he texted his manager, Brandon Moore, left a message for Moore to call him and Moore called him back immediately.
“While he was on the phone I heard, I was crossing the intersection, I heard ‘Empire!,’ Smollett told Roberts.
“I don’t answer to ‘Empire.’ My name ain’t ‘Empire.'”
The actor said he didn’t respond and kept walking only to hear someone to hear someone yell a racial slur.
“So I turned around and said ‘What the f**k did you just say to me’ and I see the attacker masked,” Smollett said, appearing to get emotional.
“He said ‘This MAGA country n****r’ and he punched me in the face so I punched his a** back.”
Smollett said they started tussling and ended up near some stairs, as a second person kicked him in his back. The alleged attackers ran off and Smollett said he looked down and saw that his phone had fallen out of his pocket.
His manager was still on the line and apparently heard the entire attack. Smollett said he told Moore he had been jumped.
“I noticed the rope around my neck and I started screaming ‘There’s a f***ing rope around my neck,” he said.
Smollett said it took authorities about 30 minutes to respond to the 911 call and during that time, he checked himself, saw his bruises and smelled bleach. He claims he left his clothes on as well as the rope around his neck in order to preserve the evidence.
He was at times emotional during the interview and said he hopes a message comes from what happened to him.
I just want young people, young members of the LGBTQ community, young black children to know how strong that they are.
To know the power that they hold in their little pinkie.