Jamal Lyon, Jussie Smollett's character on Empire, is in flux amid the allegations lodged against the actor for staging his own attack in January. Following Smollett's ouster, producers on the series are reportedly considering a recast of Jamal should Empire return for a sixth season. An Empire source told TVLine that the show's co-creator Lee Daniels, who loosely based Jamal's character on himself, could be "a strong proponent of the recast option."
According to TMZ, some of the show's cast members believe Smollett's decision to allegedly orchestrate a hate crime against himself, may have been considered after Lee Daniels' cousin fell victim to a homophobic assault in January. The Empire producer took to Instagram to condemn the hate crime and urge that these attacks become a thing of the past.
On Friday, Empire executives—Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo, and Dennis Hammer, announced that Smollett would not be returning for the remainder of season five in light of the "disturbing" nature of the accusations against him.
"We are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out," the statement read. "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."
The statement released suggests the producers have yet to decide whether the actor's exit will be permanent. However, that decision is also contingent on whether the Fox drama is renewed for another season.