Nearly a week after Jussie Smollett said he was attacked by two masked men in what his family and Chicago police are treating as a hate crime, the “Empire” star has broken his silence.
In his Friday statement, obtained by USA TODAY, Smollett, 36, wrote, “Let me start by saying that I’m ok. My body is strong but my soul is stronger. More importantly, I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words.”
Numerous celebrities have written Smollett messages of support, including his co-star Taraji P. Henson, who vowed on Instagram, “Hate will not win.”
Smollett also expressed concern with how his case is being reported in the media, noting, “I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level.” However, he said, “Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.”
He also reiterated a point made by his family in their statement, issued Thursday: “These types of cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers and non-gender conforming siblings daily. I am not and should not be looked upon as an isolated incident.”
In closing, Smollett promised fans, “We will talk soon and I will address all details of this horrific incident but I need a moment to process. Most importantly, during times of trauma, grief and pain, there is still a responsibility to lead with love. It’s all I know. And that can’t be kicked out of me.”
In their remarks, Smollett’s family also stressed that attack like his will continue to happen “until we hold each other accountable. Make no mistake, words matter. Hateful words lead to hateful actions.”
While updating the media on the case Thursday, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that detectives had recovered surveillance-camera footage of Smollett arriving home at his apartment with a rope around his neck. He said the video was recorded minutes after the actor said he was attacked.
However, he noted that investigators still have still have not managed to locate footage of the assault itself, which took place in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood around 2 a.m. CST Tuesday. Meanwhile, police have released several images of “potential persons of interest” whom they seek to question.
In addition to placing a rope around his neck, Smollett said his attackers poured an “unknown chemical substance” on him, and used racial and homophobic slurs. (Smollett, who is black and gay, later told police his assailants yelled, “This is MAGA country!” during the incident.)
In recent days, Smollett indicated that he still plans to perform a previously scheduled concert in Los Angeles this weekend.
A person familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly about it confirmed Smollett’s performance plans to USA TODAY.
Jussie Smollett: Police say ‘Empire’ star came home with rope around his neck
Jussie Smollett’s family speaks out: ‘This was a racial and homophobic hate crime’
‘Hate will not win’: ‘Empire’ co-star Taraji P. Henson decries Jussie Smollett attack
Jussie Smollett: Attack highlights amplified risks facing black LGBT community