The Chicago Police Department has charged Jussie Smollett with staging a hate crime against himself. But the Empire star continues to maintain his innocence, and now other stars in Hollywood are weighing in.
On Wednesday, Tyler Perry appeared on NBC’s The Today Show and was asked about the 36-year-old’s felony charge. Perry says he believes him.
The 49-year-old Perry said: "Listen, he is so adamant about it and he is so convincing in his story that I’m hoping and standing with him, hoping that it all turns out in his favor, for sure."
"I’ve been fighting for justice for Terrance Williams and Felipe Santos … so I wish that that case could have gotten half the attention that the Jussie Smollett thing got," he said, in a reference to the case of two men who disappeared after allegedly being picked up by a Florida sheriff’s deputy 15 years ago.
Perry continued: "But listen, everybody that knows him — he’s adamant that he’s telling the truth. Everybody that knows him that I know, they all say he’s not the type of person that would ever do that. So it’s pretty confusing, so right now it’s a wait and see."
The actress and activist Ellen Page is also speaking out. Writing in The Hollywood Reporter, she said that she has "no reason to doubt Jussie. My work on Gaycation — the docuseries I produced to chronicle LGBTQ+ stories from around the world — introduced me to many survivors of hate violence. I know how prevalent and pernicious it can be. If this situation was staged, it could make victims even more reluctant to report these crimes. Very real crimes."
She continued: "While the media and public debate the case and await more information, we must not lose sight of the very real, endemic violence that LGBTQ+ people, people of color and other underrepresented communities face every day."
After being arrested and charged, Smollett is free on $100,000 bail. His next hearing is scheduled for March 14th.AUDIO: TYLER PERRY ON JUSSIE SMOLLETT