'Empire' Star Jussie Smollett Performs for the First Time Since Chicago Attack
"I had to be here tonight. I couldn't let those motherfuckers win"
The singer previously discussed the horrific incident in a statement via Essence, but he elaborated while onstage in Los Angeles.
Prior to taking the stage, Smollett's older brother Joel Smollett Jr. addressed the crowd.
"If I'm honest, as his big brother, I wanted Jussie to sit this one out," he said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "I sincerely wanted him to stay out of the public until he heals. Then, after much debating, some arguing and many tears, my family and I realized that tonight is an important part of Jussie's healing."
Smollett himself later told the crowd, "I had to be here tonight. I couldn't let those motherfuckers win."
"The hateful rhetoric has to stop and it stops when you believe in love," he said later. "Sometimes — and I'm guilty of it, too — we who celebrate love can actually get wrapped up in so much hate. We cannot let that happen. If that does, we are destined to fail to even exist. That's not an option. Take love back. We have to take it back because it was ours to begin with."
He also clarified the attack and his injuries during the show, explaining that his ribs were bruised, but not broken; that he went to a doctor immediately, but was not hospitalized; that his doctors had cleared him to perform; and that, "I fought the fuck back."
Empire showrunner Lee Daniels was in attendance, as was Congresswoman Maxine Walters.
Watch video footage of Smollett talking to the crowd below.
Jussie Smollett's family introduces him at last night's performance at the Troubadour. pic.twitter.com/6qEulbY5IG— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) February 3, 2019
Jussie Smollett speaks for the first time last night. pic.twitter.com/vogqoko46u— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) February 3, 2019
Jussie Smollett speaks out at Los Angeles performance. pic.twitter.com/l8QZAQfubW— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) February 3, 2019