Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-06-20
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Jussie Smollett rules on 'Empire'
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Jussie Smollett started as a kid actor in films like The Mighty Ducks and North, but has now grown into a full-fledged adult, garnering rave reviews for playing Jamal Lyon in the hit Fox TV show Empire.

The musical series Empire was created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, and it debuted in 2015. It tells the story of the Lyon family navigating the hip-hop world along with family drama. Smollett plays Jamal, one of the three sons, who came out of the closet in season one and took over as CEO for a bit.

Next year he has a new film coming out called Alien: Covenant. Windy City Times was part of a conference call to the out actor about his character and his progression on season three on Empire.

Windy City Times: Hi, Jussie. We love having you film here in Chicago.

Jussie Smollett: It's getting cold in Chicago. I'm starting to cry a lot.

WCT: I just want to talk to about the LGBT aspect to the show Empire. What have fans' reactions been like over the few seasons and how do you think it's changed the dynamic of the culture?

JS: I think that it's shown just a man trying to make it work and that this is just who he is. What I've seen is that it's made a lot of people, both members of the LGBTQ community as well as allies of the LBGTQ community, it's really opened up a conversation.

It's also opened up some sort of understanding of that everyone knows someone whether you know it or not.

On this show we don't preach. We never have, and I don't think we ever will. I think what we've done is we've been able to just hold up a mirror to society and the world while also entertaining them.

Everybody's okay with gay people until they're in their family. Everybody is okay with integration until your daughter brings home a Black man. I think what it's opened up is this very strong conversation about who am I and what is it to you.

WCT: Do you think Lucious [Jamal's father, played by Terrence Howard] will ever get to a point of accepting Jamal's sexuality?

JS: I'm so glad that you asked this because it leads me to a slightly bigger point; I don't think, at this point, it's necessarily about Jamal's sexuality. It's not to say that Lucious is the supportive father and is going to be on the marches and the front lines of parents of LGBTQ people, but I also think that they just have a problem with each other because more than anybody, they're most alike. That is the issue.

So this season, it's not necessarily about the sexuality. It's so much bigger than that. That leads me to the whole thing of will Lucious ever accept his son's sexuality. This is the point that I keep on trying to drive home, we don't all have to see the world in the same way. You know what I'm saying?

Lucious has every right to think and to believe that Jamal being homosexual is wrong. He has every right to believe that. It only becomes wrong when he shits upon Jamal and Jamal's basic freedoms. That's all.

So Jamal's obviously a bigger picture for the world as a whole. We don't all have to agree, and it doesn't make us bad people if we do agree. It only makes us bad if your disagreement and your beliefs then trace over my simple basic freedoms. I think that goes for Lucious and Jamal as well.

WCT: What kind of love interests will Jamal have this season?

JS: I guess you'll just have to watch and see. I will say this: I'm very happy where Jamal is going. This is the toughest season that I've done so far because this season has made me have to do real research, not just digging inside of myself but real research of PTSD and panic attacks and things like that. It's really made me have to do extra work, and I love it.

So this season, I will say without giving too much away, I love exactly where Jamal is.

WCT: Working with Mariah, how has that been and do you plan on recording any music outside of Empire with her?

JS: Working with Mariah, it's perfect. It is. It's perfect, and I keep saying this. I was talking to her the other day just to thank her. She didn't have to show the incredible amount of support that she has to me personally. But she has, and I'm very honored to work with her. It's just everything.

I grew up in the '90s and the 2000s, when our main go-to vocalists were Whitney and Mariah. To be able to sing with one of these greats is just an honor. It's been wonderful.

As far as recording music outside of the show, I would love to. I think that we just have to talk to Mariah and try to figure it out.

WCT: How do you prepare for your performances with her?

JS: Praying to the Lord a lot. This is the biggest thing that I have ever done, so it has to be on point. So we're just working hard. I'm working with my creative team and we're going to just put on the very best show that I can. I'm excited. I'm just preparing. I've already started. I flew here to LA to start preparing already.

It's unbelievable because you're already going to have the Mariah fans there who have to keep their attention because they're waiting on Mariah. We have to give a good show. So that's what I'm just aiming for. It'll be fun.

WCT: After all Jamal has been through in past seasons, do you continue to learn things about yourself as a person through this character?

JS: Sure. I think that's a part of art. I learn something new about myself every day playing Jamal, but I learned something new about myself every day when I was a broke artist before I even knew of anything called Empire.

You have to understand that I'm older than Jamal is, not by much but by enough, like five years. That's enough. So I've been through a lot of things that Jamal has been through already. The only thing is that now I feel sometimes like I'm going through them again because now more people are watching me go through them. So it's a different experience, but I learn something new.

I've learned from playing Jamal to be as honest and fearless as I possibly can, and that's not always going to work in your favor in the short run, but in the long run, it will.

WCT: Can you talk about the character you play on Alien: Covenant?

JS: No, I cannot because I literally signed a phone book. I think I would have to give up my firstborn.

What I can say is that he is a member of the covenant. Listen, working with Ridley Scott, Michael Fassbender, Carmen Ejogo and Billy Crudup was just such an awesome experience. I've been so blessed in these casts that I get to be a part of that we actually are cool with each other. I haven't run into any cast—knock on wood yet—that I've worked with where I'm like, "Damn, I hate these people, God, I want to go home." It's always been cool. So that was a great thing.

It comes out Aug. 4, 2017, and it's pretty incredible. It's kind of scary!

Empire airs every Wednesday on Fox at 9 p.m. CT.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

'Will & Grace' revival out on DVD 2018-06-20 - The first-season revival of Will & Grace—out 10 years after the original show ended—is now out on DVD, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. ...

Gay News

TELEVISION A fortified spirit, Angelica Ross of 'Pose' 2018-06-20 - Angelica Ross is busy. She's filming a movie in the fall with Whoopi Goldberg. She's the CEO of TransTech Social Enterprises, a firm ...

Gay News

Rich Madaleno campaign ad with same-sex kiss aired on Fox & Friends 2018-06-07 - Washington, DC — A new campaign ad for Maryland gubernatorial candidate Richard Madaleno — which focuses on his record of progressive accomplishments for ...

Gay News

TELEVISION REVIEW Pose 2018-06-06 - Director: Ryan Murphy ( first two episodes ). Starring: Evan Peters, MJ Rodriguez and Dominique Jackson, among others. Time: Varies. Premiere date: June ...

Gay News

Mirza part of 'Red Line' series 2018-06-06 - Local Pakistani, Muslim, queer actress-activist Fawzia Mirza will be a writer on the CBS show Red Line. Ava Duvernay and Greg Berlanti are ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Dolly Parton, 'Orange' premiere, Kate Spade, Ryan Gosling 2018-06-05 - Dolly Parton is working on an eight-episode anthology series for Netflix based on her music, Variety noted. Parton will serve as singer and ...

Gay News

NUNN ON ONE Kameron Michaels muscles in on drag scene 2018-05-30 - "Bodybuilder Barbie" Kameron Michaels continually walks the line between strength and beauty. His real name is Dane Young and he joined the ...

Gay News

SAVOR Local chefs show cooking styles on new TV program 2018-05-29 - WTTW delivers flavor with its new show Dishalicious, which features Chicago chefs cooking up different cuisines and dishing on their experience and cooking ...

Gay News

Roseanne canceled after star's racist tweets 2018-05-29 - Roseanne, television's most-watched show, has been canceled in the wake of star Roseanne Barr's racist tweet regarding former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett. Barr ...

Gay News

TELEVISION Series continues to examine transgender people's lives 2018-05-22 - In 2004, Dr. Bruce Hensel hosted and co-directed The Opposite Sex: Rene's Story and The Opposite Sex: Jamie's Story—two series that looked at ...


Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.