Jussie Smollett's alleged hoax attack might have been inspired by a real hate crime. According to anonymous Empire sources who spoke to TMZ, Smollett may have thought to stage his attack after director and Empire executive producer Lee Daniels' cousin was assaulted in January.
Daniels posted a recounting of his cousin's attack to Instagram on Jan. 10, urging the world to put these sort of incidents in the past.
"This past week my cousin was beat up for being gay and I am sick of hearing these stories," he wrote in the caption. "It’s the beginning of a new year and we need to do better."
"This publicity stunt was a scar Chicago didn't earn and certainly didn't deserve," CPD superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters.
Due to the ongoing legal drama, the Empire team made the decision to remove Smollett from the final episodes of the fifth season. The show released a statement about their decision to write Smollett out while making it clear that they support the actor.
"The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. Jussie has been an important member of our Empire family for the past five years and we care about him deeply," the statement said. "While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season."