By Ashley Coffey
February 17, 2019
I might get blackballed from the industry for speaking my mind, but what's the point of having an opinion if you can't share it? I don't condone violence, even if it is allegedly staged. But in Jussie Smollett’s case it might prove that he's guilty of being in the industry so long that fame fed on his conscious.
Watch his interview with ABC News host Robin Roberts and decide for yourself. Personally, I was shocked when I heard the latest developments in his alleged Chicago mugging case. According to the Empire star, he was attacked by someone spouting hate speech during a recent press trip. Shortly after, stars like Tracee Ellis Ross shared their condolences via Instagram Stories.
It’s been almost three weeks since then and now the Chicago police believe the LGBTQ advocate may have fabricated the story. According to CNN, two brothers told police that Smollett paid them to carry out the attack. But his attorneys deny the allegations.
When the news broke, social media was unusually silent. About two hours after this story went live, 13th Director Ava Duvernay shared her sentiments about the incident on Twitter citing that she’s unsure of what happened but that she won’t be quick to believe the Chicago police.
But, where are the rest of the A-List celebrities who supported him? Maybe they were too busy sipping Dom in the Hills while they posted selfies instead of scandals. It’s also possible they were just as surprised as I was when I heard about the alleged developments. It’s also possible that the two men who supposedly snitched to police fabricated their involvement.
I researched the story and have seen it ignite the Internet. Everyone from Breitbart to Variety is talking about what might have transpired. But I had to do my own research to make my own decision. My conclusion: even with the facts as they stand, I still stand by my statement: not saying he did it, but if he did I wouldn't blame him.
The entertainment industry is a zoo. It turns people to animals as they claw their way to the top. Some are tame. Others roar when they don't get their way. I was exposed to it for about ten years and have seen how fame turns men into beasts.
The more magazines you sell or ratings records you break, the more successful you are. You become a commodity that increases in stock value whenever whatever show you're on or movie you're in does well. And if you grew up as a child actor like Smollett, you might have picked up an addiction or two along the way. So I’m not saying fame was his vice, but if it was I wouldn't blame him.
A quick online search of the word Empire proves that. Articles about Smollett’s case have skyrocketed the TV show’s SEO. We, the consumer, then read the headline and consume the clickbait like fish in barren waters. So whether the attack was real or just really premeditated, it presents a wild narrative that makes him and the show famous (or infamous).
As for Smolett’s social media activity, the commenting has been turned off on his latest post. After his trip to Chicago, his Instagram was filled with commenters who were concerned for the his safety. Now we’ll never know what comments it could have contained, but I’m sure we could make an educated guess.
This story will continue to unravel and unfold. As it does, we will be alerted to the developments through the news or social media. Our opinions will continue to sway, but one thing will remain: our conversation about Smolett, his ties to Empire and the ability stories like these have to entertain us.
Even though I hope the story isn't true, I’ll be stuck to it like glue. It’s a testament to you, the creatives. It’s about the power of the industry and the vices it presents to you. So like J.Cole says, “choose wisely.”
Ashley Coffey, host of The We Take Note Podcast, shared her thoughts about the latest Smollett developments on her podcast. It can be streamed below:
This article has been updated.