It’s reckoning day for Jussie Smollett. The Empire actor has been sentenced for 150 days in jail and probation for 30 months in relation to his 2019 ‘hoax’ case. Following his sentence Smollett took a moment to speak to the jury, where he claimed he was innocent, not suicidal and claimed if anything happened to him while serving his time ‘he did not do it.’
With all of the drama the actor has faced over the last two years, it’s a wonder if he will ever have a career resurgence. The consensus is that the curtains have closed for his Hollywood career for many. So now that the news has been announced of his fate, what is next for Jussie Smollett’s career?
Before January 29, 2019, Jussie Smollet’s star was on a swift rise. The California-born entertainer was a child model before achieving his first significant screen role in the 1992 film The Mighty Ducks. He was then cast in the 1994 film North and doing some television work. For instance, Smollett voiced the character “Mike” on the animated program Cro in 1993, followed by the series On Our Own in 1994. Both programs aired on ABC. Years later, Jussie Smollett secured the starring role in the film The Skinny, written and directed by Noah’s Arc creator Patrik Ian Polk. But it was in 2014 when he began to work on the Fox musical drama Empire that’d change his life.
Empire debuted on television screens in 2015, featuring an impressive cast of characters that included Jussie Smollett. Smollett became a multiple BET and Teen Choice Award-nominee for his portrayal of Jamal Lyons. While filming for the show, the actor had his hand in other projects. Expanding his resume, Jussie Smollett soon began to get in his director bag and was behind the camera for an episode on the fourth season.
The actor secured a recording contract with Columbia Records. However, the only songs to be released under the label were songs from the show. But in 2018, the entertainer independently released his debut solo album called Sum Of My Music. The album debuted at number 22 on Billboard’s Heatseeker charts. Elsewhere on television, Jussie Smollett guest-starred on WGN’s Underground in 2016. He also starred in the 2017 film Alien: Covenant, and in the same year, Smollet depicted Langston Hughes in the movie Marshall alongside the late Chadwick Boseman.
Activism also played a considerable role in Jussie Smollett’s career. PRNewswire credits the actor for being an HIV/AIDS activist since he was a teenager and an inductee in the Black AIDS Institute’s “Heroes in the Struggle” Hall of Fame. In addition, Smollett has often made various donations to organizations for HIV/AIDS awareness. Aside from that, Smollett is often vocal about issues with racism, prejudice, and Black Lives. The actor also shares a passion for charity and volunteer work, according to a recent account from his friend. A man named Tom Wilson tells the New York Post that the actor was on hand to volunteer and dish out medical supplies in aid of those affected by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Wilson also states that Jussie Smollett donated all of his proceeds from a 2018 European tour to charity.
But the actor’s stock went down following the January 29, 2019 incident in which Jussie Smollett claimed he was the victim of a hate crime one late Chicago night. As a result, Smollett was removed from the sixth and final season of Empire, and all other work virtually dried up. During a conversation with Fox News, CEO of crisis PR firm “Red Banyan,” Evan Nierman, stated his belief that Jussie Smollett’s career got served a death sentence. Also sharing their opinion with the network was Newsroom PR CEO Howard Breuer who believed that due to the compelling evidence against him, he will never be uncanceled.
While the opinions of these publicists are strong, there are instances where celebrities recover following a PR nightmare. For example, we’ve seen career revivals with Gwyneth Paltrow following her 2001 arrest for shoplifting that received massive media coverage. In recent times, figures like Anna Sorokin – whose life is depicted in the Netflix drama Inventing Anna, and Simon Leviev of The Tinder Swindler are resurging thanks to the stories of their scandals. According to a close friend of Jussie Smollett , the actor is looking to become an activist and return to acting once his sentence is complete.