The show's stars on Wednesday penned a letter supporting the reinstatement of Smollett, who Chicago police in February accused of orchestrating a fake hate crime against himself. Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Bryshere Y. Gray, Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe, and Nicole Ari Parker write that "we stand with Jussie Smollett and ask that our co-star, brother and friend be brought back for our sixth season of Empire," per Deadline.
Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts in March, but all charges against him were later dropped. The actor, who said two men attacked him while shouting "This is MAGA country," has continued to maintain his innocence.
The Empire cast writes that Smollett is "innocent and no longer subject to legal uncertainty," also saying the case against him "was dismissed because it would not have prevailed." They go on to defend his character, calling him "honest" and "filled with integrity," and they criticize the "court of public opinion" they say has been made "more unjust" by "the extreme political climate in our country."
The letter's recipients include Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier and Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment Chair Dana Walden.
Fox previously removed Smollett from the last two episodes of Empire's current season, but it has not confirmed his potential future on the series as the last episode he filmed is set to air on Wednesday. During an appearance on The View in early April, when asked if Smollett would be returning to Empire, Henson confidently responded, "Yes." Co-creator Lee Daniels has been less definitive, though, recently telling Entertainment Tonight, "We are in discussions about that right now." Brendan Morrow