Jussie Smollett’s castmates on Empire are reportedly lobbying Fox executives to rescind their decision to keep the actor off the upcoming season of the show. They are reportedly trying to convince Fox execs to bring him back to the show which was recently renewed for Season 6.
According to TMZ, members of the Empire cast, including Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard, believe that Jussie deserves to be allowed to stay on the show.
News that Smollett’s Empire castmates are lobbying for his return comes a week after media reports that Fox has renewed the musical TV drama for Season 6 but that there were no plans to bring back Smollett’s character Jamal Lyon to the show although Fox had negotiated an extension of Smollett’s contract through the upcoming season.
“By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for season 6, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to Empire,” read the statement released by Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television.
“We’ve been told that Jussie will not be on Empire in the beginning of the season but he appreciates they have extended his contract to keep Jamal’s future open,” a representative of Smollett said a statement.
Immediately after Fox released the statement, many of Smollett’s co-stars contacted Empire showrunners and began lobbying for his full-time return to the show.
Deadline reported that Smollett’s castmates wrote a letter to Fox execs pleading for his return.
Empire cast members want Smollett to return because they believe that his character Jamal plays an important role in the show and that due to his popularity among fans, removing him from the show could hurt ratings.
Smollett’s character Jamal was written off the last two episodes of Season 5 after he got married to Kai (Toby Onwumere) in episode 16, titled No Doubt I Love and the pair went off on their honeymoon.
— Empire (@EmpireFOX) April 25, 2019
The decision to write his character off the show followed allegations that he staged a fake racist and homophobic attack against himself. The criminal charges were later dropped but the city of Chicago brought a civil suit against him to recover the cost of the investigation into the alleged attack.