Jussie Smollett (left) and Rafael de la Fuenta in Empire
Jussie Smollett, the breakout star of one of America’s hottest new TV shows, has come out after weeks of speculation about his sexuality.
The sexy actor and singer plays Jamal Lyon, the gay son of entertainment giant Lucious (Terrence Howard), in the hit series Empire.
While his character’s sexuality is a major part of the storyline, Smollett had refused to discuss his personal life.
A week ago, however, Empire actor Malik Yoba appeared to inadvertently reveal that his co-star is gay in an interview.
On Monday, the 31-year-old newcomer decided to take control of the rumour mill and came out (without ever using the word “gay”).
After appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres show, he approached the talk show host to film an additional personal backstage interview to state that he’s never actually been in the closet.
“It was very important to me that my first performance and talk show was with you. You’ve been such an inspiration to so many and also to me,” Smollett told DeGeneres. “What you’ve done within the LGBT community is very much like what, in my opinion, Michael Jackson did with the black community.”
He went on to say: “It was really important to me to make sure that it got across that there is no closet. There’s never been a closet that I’ve been in. I don’t own a closet, I own a dresser. But I have a home and that is my responsibility to protect that home. So that’s why I choose not to talk about my personal life.”
“Let’s not read into it in the wrong way when I say I don’t talk about my personal life,” explained Smollett. “It is in no way to hide or deny who God made me. My mama knows. My mama likes me a lot. And yes, I take her to The Sound of Music sing-along every single year. So any questions?”
He added, jokingly: “I told Ellen, who else do I need to tell?”
Created by openly gay Academy Award nominee Lee Daniels, Empire is a drama about the ailing head of a music empire whose three sons and ex-wife battle for his throne.
Empire features a hip-hop soundtrack courtesy of hit-making mega-producer Timbaland, and has steadily grown in the rating in the US; becoming the number one show on the FOX network.
Don’t miss it on the local FOX channel (DSTV channel 125) in South Africa.