For the next one hundred and fifty days, Jussie Smollett will be behind bars. The news of Cook County Judge James Linn’s decision to sentence the Empire actor 150 days behind bars has many people divided. A multitude of fans have taken their stance on whether or not Jussie Smollett should have received this fate. Now many celebrities are speaking up about the entertainer’s sentencing.
Jussie Smollett has been the subject of criticism since alleging that he was the victim of a hate crime one late winter night in Chicago. Conflicting stories came about during the trial, along with numerous amounts of evidence against the actor. Initially, many prominent figures from Vice President Kamala Harris, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Bernie Sanders voiced their support for Smollett.
Vice President Kamala Harris called the incident a “modern-day lynching.” AOC wrote on Twitter that it was not a possible homophobic attack but indeed driven by racism and homophobia. President Joe Biden commented that the action should “never be tolerated in this country” and that “We are with you, Jussie.”
But with Jussie Smollett now sentenced, many on the “right” are resurfacing the comments of these celebrities and stating that they should not be trusted. For example, right-leaning media personality Rob Smith shared screenshots of many of the prominent political figures’ tweets that supported Jussie Smollett. “Think about Jussie Smollett the next time any of these people try to lecture you or tell you how to feel about ANYTHING,” he captioned the tweet.
But many celebrities championed the Alien: Covenant behind the scenes while the trial was in progress. Among those to plead to the Judge for leniency were Samuel L. Jackson and Alfre Woodard.
Django Unchained actor Samuel L. Jackson and his wife penned an emotional letter that spoke on Jussie Smollett’s character. The couple shared their experience of watching Smollett grow up, working with him in the film Eve’s Bayou, and his work in activism. Jackson ended his letter telling the judge, “Jussie has already suffered a great deal of punishment, as this situation has destroyed his existing career and impugned his reputation.”
Luke Cage actress Alfre Woodard referred to herself as “Mama Alfre” on his behalf, also speaking on the character of Jussie Smollett. The Oscar-Nominated actress begged for an alternative to incarceration as he had only committed a “class 4 felony.” Woodard claimed that she “feared for his safety” in the lengthy letter if the actor was placed behind bars.
Comedian Trevor Noah tweeted out his sentiments that what Jussie Smollett’s did was “dumb as hell.” However, The Daily Show host also stated the actor would spend more time behind bars longer than the family who are mostly blamed for the opioid crisis. Noah echoed his statements in a previous segment on his late-night Comedy Central talk show that he “felt bad” for the Empire actor and offered a different take on his punishment. Shedding light that “Karens” are allowed to call the cops on Black people without punishment, Trevor Noah stated Jussie Smollett “should be forced to get a white lady nickname.”
Jussie Smollett’s Empire co-star Taraji P. Henson posted a lengthy statement to her Instagram supporting the actor and speaking out against his sentencing. “I am not here to debate you on his innocence but we can agree that the punishment does not fit the crime,” she began. The actress recalls the horrible Emmett Till incident in which those involved were never punished, even after it was admitted to be a lie. Taraji P. Henson claims that he is already being punished as his work in Hollywood is seemingly irreparably damaged. She added her prayers that the Judge would reconsider placing him under house arrest rather than incarceration because “this would seem fair.”
Another who offered his take on the news was comedian Lil’ Duval. According to Duval, the reason Smollett received his sentence is not because of the lie but because he mentioned he was “the gay Tupac.” But New York Times Bestselling Author Frederick Joseph shared a very interesting tidbit concerning the incident. On Twitter, the writer shared, “Jussie Smollett received more time than George Zimmerman and nearly everyone who tried to overthrow the government on January 6th.”
A clip from Amanda Seales on The Real also resurfaced where she shared that whether or not it was a hoax, hate crimes are happening every day. Seales also noted that if it was done to shed light on the happenings of hate crimes, Smollett’s actions were “low-key noble.”
Jussie Smollett’s family has firmly stood in his corner throughout the whole ordeal. Lovecraft Country star Jurnee Smollett wrote on Instagram that her brother is innocent. “Black Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at nearly five times the rate of White Americans,” she wrote. “And…you don’t have to believe in his innocence to believe he should be free.”