"Empire" co-creator Lee Daniels has finally spoken up about the Jussie Smollett fake hate crime scandal, and after first supporting Smollett, he now says he is "beyond embarrassed" about the incident.
Earlier this week Daniels took to social media to dismiss reports that Smollett would return to the sixth season of the popular television series. Then he candidly spoke about the ordeal to Vulture.
"I’m beyond embarrassed," the 59-year-old director and producer told the news outlet when asked about claims that Smollett concocted a fake racist and homophobic attack in effort to get paid more on "Empire."
When reports of the alleged attack first emerged, Daniels supported Smollett, who continues to claim he was attacked, even though police have said he arranged the hate crime himself. The two brothers who “attacked” the actor have testified that they were paid by Smollett to stage the incident.
"I think that when it happened, I had a flash of me running from bullies,” said Daniels. “I had a flash of my whole life, of my childhood, my youth, getting beaten. He added that the whole scandal came out of the blue and part of him wanted to believe that Smollett was innocent.
"Of course, there’s some doubt. I’m telling you that because I love him so much," Daniels told Vulture. "That’s the torture that I’m in right now, because it’s literally if it were to happen to your son and your child, how would you feel? You would feel, Please, God, please let there be that glimmer of hope that there is some truth in this story. That’s why it’s been so painful. It was a flood of pain."
Daniels said he had to detach himself from the situation.
"It was taking away the time I have for my kids, the time I have for my partner," he said. "It was affecting my spirit and other shows, everything."
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