Terrence Howard has spoken out in defense of Jussie Smollett following his arrest for allegedly staging a hate crime.
The Empire actor who plays patriarch Lucious Lyon posted a video to Instagram Sunday of Smollett playing with a child who appears to be Howard’s son; Smollett portrays Lucious Lyon’s son on the Fox series.
“All your lil homies got you. We love the hell outta you,” Howard wrote with a heart emoji. Howard’s Empire co-star Gabourey Sidibe also commented on the post with three heart emojis.
However, Howard received backlash from former Scandal actor Columbus Short who asked that he condemn the allegedly fake attack, USA Today reported.
“Whatever game was played is [unacceptable],” Short commented. “And yes I am speaking on your page loudly and clearly. I look up to you Terence. You have to take a leadership position. And denounce this (expletive). Otherwise you as dumb as he is. Period!”
Howard wrote an impassioned reply to another commenter saying, “Sorry you feel that way but that’s the only Jussie I know. The Jussie I know could never even conceive of something so unconscious and ugly.”
The actor also denounced the idea of putting Smollett on trial by social media.
“His innocence or judgment is not for any of us to decide,” he commented. “Stay in your lane and my lane is empathy and love and compassion for someone I’ve called my son for five years. It’s God’s job to judge and it’s ours to love and hope, especially for those that we claim to have loved.”
It was revealed on Friday that Fox had removed Smollett’s character from the final two episodes of Season 5 after the actor was indicted and arrested for making a false police report and disorderly conduct.
Chicago police have accused Smollett of allegedly paying two men to attack him in late January because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted to gain more exposure.