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Jussie Smollett’s Sister: ‘I Believe My Brother,’ Scandal Has Been ‘F***ing Painful’

"I look at him sometimes and I'm like, 'He's so strong.'"
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 01: Jussie Smollett (L) and Jurnee Smollett-Bell attend the 2018 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Oscars Luncheon at Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on March 1, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.
Leon Bennett/Getty Images for Essence)

Jussie Smollett’s sister, Jurnee, maintains that her brother is innocent of the charges that he staged a hate crime in order to boost his paycheck on the show “Empire.”

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Jurnee said that her brother’s alleged scandal has been “one of the most painful things” her family has experienced.

“It’s been f**king painful, one of the most painful things my family’s ever experienced,” Jurnee said. “To love someone as much as we love my brother, and to watch someone who you love that much go through something like this, that is so public, has been devastating. I was already in a very dark space for a number of reasons, and I’ve tried to not let it make me pessimistic. But everyone who knows me knows that I love my brother and I believe my brother.”

“We are blessed to have a community of people who know him, and know that he wouldn’t do this,” she asserted later in the interview.

Sometimes Jurnee looks upon her brother in awe of just how “strong” he really is.

“I mean, f**k, man, I look at him sometimes and I’m like, ‘He’s so strong,'” she said.

In early 2019, the “Empire” actor claimed that he fell victim to a hate crime on a cold winter’s night in Chicago at the hands of two men who derided him with homophobic slurs and then yelled “this is MAGA country” before tying a noose around his neck. Many in the media took Smollett’s story at face-value until evidence quickly mounted that he had allegedly hired two brothers from Nigeria to stage the attack, supposedly in an effort to boost his salary on the show.

After Smollett turned himself in to police for the felony charge of filing a false police report, the situation took a turn for the worse when the charges against him were suddenly dropped by Chicago prosecutor Kim Foxx, prompting outrage from both the Chicago Police Department and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In an obvious attempt to rectify the situation and regain city trust, a Chicago judge appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the way Smollett’s case was handled.

Smollett has since been indicted on charges of disorderly conduct; the city of Chicago is also suing Smollett for $130,000 in wasted police resources. He has failed to have the charges dropped on the basis of double-jeopardy.

After the Smollett story became a national sensation, the hit show “Empire” was canceled by FOX, leaving the actor’s career in virtual ruin. Speaking with Vulture last year, the show’s creator, Lee Daniels, admitted that the actor’s antics played a part in “Empire” going off the air.

“I’m beyond embarrassed,” Daniels told Vulture. “I think that when it happened, I had a flash of me running from bullies. I had a flash of my whole life, of my childhood, my youth, getting beaten.”

Daniels added that his love for Smollett makes him feel “some doubt” at times that the actor indeed staged a fake hate crime against himself.

“Of course, there’s some doubt,” Daniels said. “I’m telling you that because I love him so much. That’s the torture that I’m in right now, because it’s literally if it were to happen to your son and your child, how would you feel? You would feel, please, God, please let there be that glimmer of hope that there is some truth in this story. That’s why it’s been so painful. It was a flood of pain.”

“We weren’t there. I can’t judge him,” he continued. “That’s only for the f***ing lady or man with that black robe and God. I had to detach myself and stop calling him, because it was taking away the time I have for my kids, the time I have for my partner. It was affecting my spirit and other shows, everything.”

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