Lee Daniels & Jussie Smollett Received Death Threats Over ‘Empire’ Gay Storyline
Lee Daniels and Jussie Smollett have been receiving death threats because of the gay storyline in FOX’s hit television series Empire. Lee Daniels, the co-creator of the show, who has been a victim of homophobia for most of his life, revealed that he will pursue with the storyline despite the threats.
Despite receiving death threats, Lee Daniels and Jussie Smollett will march on with their decision to tackle homosexuality and homophobia in Empire. Last week, Empire‘s co-creator and writer Lee Daniels along with several actors from the show appeared at the 7th annual Produced By conference in Los Angeles, California.
Daniels revealed that he and Jussie Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon, the gay musician/singer and son of Lucious Lyon, (Terrence Howard) and Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), are being targeted by death threats. Lee told the audience:
“Homophobia is real. It exists. Jussie [Smollett] and I get death threats because of the statements we are trying to make”
Daniels added that he will continue telling this important story “until homophobia is done,” and the black community finally stops “ridiculing and harassing” closeted gay people, who have one simple desire to come out and live normal lives.
The subplot to have Jamal as a homosexual man, who has a rocky relationship with his father, was part of the show since day one because it tells Daniels’ real life story. The Academy Award-nominated director’s father was a police officer, who was killed in the line of duty in the 1970s.
The officer did indeed drop his son in a trash bin because he was too “feminine.” Daniels shared:
“It was always a part of our original pitch … we try to infuse social issues, social justice in everything we do. Fox has come to the table with me,” Daniels continued. “These guys have come and embraced us … not only did they let me do my thing, me and Danny do our thing, but they also put the money behind it.”
Jussie Smollett sat down with Ellen DeGeneres earlier this year and announced to the world that he is gay. Smollett shared:
“It was a bigger deal to everyone than it was for me. But at the same time I do understand why it is something to talk about…I didn’t talk to Ellen so that people could, be like ‘oh my God, let’s see what Jussie does in his bedroom in his private life.’ But I did talk to her so that people understood that they’re not alone. That’s all.”
Empire Season 2 will have 18 episodes and will premiere on September 23; Alicia Keys, Oprah, Eminem and R. Kelly are rumored to be appearing on the show.
What are your thoughts on Lee Daniels’ statement?