Jussie Smollett returned to the red carpet for the first time after stepping away from the spotlight to deal with ongoing legal issues.
After reportedly fabricating a hate crime incident in 2019, the former “Empire” actor has been the target of criticism for years.
However, the actor maintained his innocence as recently as July, when he told Fox News that he was attending a “dog and pony show” while appearing in court on new charges, including six counts of felony misconduct for allegedly lying to police about a racist, homophobic attack he claims he was the victim of.
On Friday, the embattled actor, 39, appeared at a premiere for his directorial debut film, “B-Boy Blues,” in Harlem.
People reports that the film is based on James Earl Hardy’s 1994 novel of the same name. It was produced by Smollett’s SuperMassive Movies along with Hardy and others.
It follows Mitchell Crawford, a 27-year-old journalist, and Raheim Rivers, a 21-year-old bike messenger and banjee boy, often known as a B-boy, as they deal with homophobia after falling in love at a New York City pub. While the film is finished and ready to be exhibited, it is still seeking for a distributor to help it reach a wider audience.
“To see all the love for the film is crazy beautiful,” he said on his Instagram Story. “More to come while I catch up but to everyone who came out last night with so much love and community… on behalf of everyone @bboybluesfilm, thank you.”
The appearance comes days before Smollett is due to appear in court once again on Nov. 29 for his role in the allegedly phony hate crime. In 2019, he originally told police that he was attacked by two men who shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him. They allegedly tied a rope around his neck and poured a liquid on him. However, two men who he worked with on “Empire” came forward and alleged that he paid them $3,500 to stage the entire attack as a publicity stunt.
Charges in the case were initially dropped and the actor forfeited a $10,000 bond. However, a year later, Cook County special prosecutor Dan Webb indicted him on six new counts of disorderly conduct and lying to the Chicago Police Department.