BET Awards 2022: Jussie Smollett on ‘wonderful’ return to spotlight after jail stint

Jussie Smollett made a surprise appearance at the BET Awards in LA (Picture: Getty)

Jussie Smollett has opened up about his return to the spotlight after he was released from jail.

The Empire actor had been sentenced to 150 days behind bars for falsely claiming he was the victim of a hate crime, In 2019 – but was released after a few days.

He made his red carpet return last night at the BET Awards, held at Microsoft Theater in LA, and was thrilled to return to the spotlight amid his legal issues.

Speaking at the bash, the 40-year-old explained that he ‘never thought of myself as working my way back’ after the incident, but has relished the ‘wonderful’ opportunity of returning to work on his directorial debut, B-Boy Blues.

‘This has always been the plan, to expand my empire, so to speak,’ he said. ‘To expand the level of what I want to do…

‘To be able to usher in a new generation of artists and actors and these amazing talents.’

The Empire actor was all smiles on the red carpet (Picture: Getty)

As well as his work behind the camera, Smollett revealed that he has ‘good music’ on the way for fans soon – after dropping a self-reflective track in April.

Addressing those who had stood by him over the last few years, he added to Entertainment Tonight: ‘I tell them, with all my heart, just thank you. They never waivered, they never straddled the fence, and for that I am forever grateful. I don’t take that lightly, I don’t take it lightly for a moment.

‘My family, my friends, the true ones, if I never get to hug you in person, know that there’s a hug in my heart that I genuinely mean.’

Smollett was famously convicted of lying to police after allegedly fabricating a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago, in January, 2019.

He said that it was ‘wonderful’ to be back on a red carpet (Picture: WireImage)

He had told police officers that he had been attacked by two men wearing ski masks, who yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him and put a noose around his neck.

The actor – who played Jamal Lyon in the musical drama – alleged that they told him he was in ‘MAGA country’ – referring to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign slogan, and even put a noose around his neck. 

Investigators soon turned their attention into Smollettt, who was accused of paying two men who he knew to carry out the attack, instructing them on what to say and do.

A jury convicted Smollett in December on five felony counts of lying to the police and he was sent to jail earlier this year – but was released on March 16 after serving six nights of his sentence.

He is reportedly planning to appeal the verdict after his release from jail. 

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