Jussie Smollett Nominated For NAACP Image Award, Host Says 'I Hope He Wins'
Chicago, IL – “Empire” star Jussie Smollett is up for a big award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) on Saturday despite the fact he remains under a very dark cloud following the hoax hate crime he staged in Chicago.
Smollett was nominated for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series before he staged the attack on himself on Jan. 29, according to FOX News.
The 50th NAACP Image Awards, to be held on March 30 at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, honor outstanding performances in film, television, music, and literature by persons of color.
It’s not known if Smollett is planning to attend the ceremony, but TMZ reported that the actor had flown to Los Angeles on Wednesday night.
Video showed Smollett ignoring reporters' questions about his charges being dropped as he trooped through LAX with his entourage.
Anthony Anderson, who has hosted the awards show for six years and stars in the sitcom “Black-ish,” offered his support for Smollett after the charges against the “Empire” star were dropped on March 26, according to Variety.
“I hope to see him here,” Anderson said. “I hope he wins. I’m happy for him that the system worked for him in his favor because the system isn’t always fair, especially for people of color.”
“So I’m glad it worked out for him,” he continued. “It’s not my place or any other person’s place to judge him or what not, but I’m glad the he’s nominated… I hope he wins because I’d be interested to hear his speech.”
This will not be the first time a controversial person has taken the stage at the NAACP Image Awards.
In 1994, in the midst of his trial for molesting a 13-year-old boy, Michael Jackson presented Debbie Allen with the choreography award, the Los Angeles Times reported.
When one of the presenters was calling out the singer’s name for a nomination, he referred to him as "Michael Innocent-Until-Proven-Guilty Jackson."
The same year, the National Political Congress of Black Women accused the NAACP of sexism after they failed to withdraw Tupac Shakur’s outstanding lead actor nomination after he was accused of rape in New York City, the Los Angeles Times reported.
At the time of the awards ceremony, Shakur was charged with felony counts of forcible sodomy and unlawful detainment in that case, and was also facing two counts of aggravated assault for an unrelated case in which he allegedly shot and wounded two off-duty police officers.
The award went to Denzel Washington for “Malcolm X.”
Smollett has repeatedly referred to himself as the "gay Tupac," according to TMZ.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office dropped 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct against Smollett on Tuesday, but the brouhaha surrounding his staged hate crime will not be going away anytime soon.
President Donald Trump vowed to have the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation investigate the state’s attorney’s handling of the case, and the GOP leader of the Illinois House referred the matter to the Illinois Attorney General for investigation.
Smollett told police on Jan. 29 that he had been attacked by two white supporters of President Donald Trump on his way home from a Subway restaurant.
He claimed the men called him homophobic and anti-black slurs and told him “This is MAGA country” as they beat him up and put a noose around his neck. He also said they threw a chemical on him.
However, investigators quickly figured out that something was amiss, and then identified Smollett’s attackers.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson explained at a press conference the day of Smollett’s arrest that that police considered the actor a victim up until Ola and Abel Osundairo returned from Nigeria to Chicago and were taken into police custody, and then the investigation “spun in a totally different direction.”
“We gave him the benefit of the doubt up until that 47th hour. But when we discovered the actual motive, quite frankly, it pissed everybody off,” he explained.
Smollett was initially charged with one felony count of disorderly conduct on Feb. 20 for making a false police report. A grand jury indicted Smollett on 16 counts related to the same crime on March 8 and the prosecutor brought those charges against the actor.
There are several federal investigations ongoing related to Smollett hoax investigation and a hoax death threat letter that police believe the actor sent to himself before the attack.