The 36-year-old actor, who was nominated for his work on Empire, lost to Jesse Williams from Grey's Anatomy at the event, which occurred just days after all criminal charges were dropped against Smollett.
More awards will be presented at a televised NAACP Image Awards ceremony on Saturday, however ET learned on Thursday that Smollett was not planning to attend. During a recent interview with ET, the awards show's host, Anthony Anderson, said that he hoped Smollett would make an appearance at the event to "speak his truth."
Anthony Anderson Weighs In on Where Jussie Smollett Goes From Here (Exclusive)
"In light of the charges being dropped, I think it [would be] a good thing for him, I think it's a good thing for their show, and why not come be celebrated with his peers and his community?" Anderson said.
"I think he's been speaking his truth since he started in this business," the Black-ish star said in a separate interview with ET. "We're not even going to talk about what's happened as of recent, but I believe he's always spoken his truth and what better place to speak it than in front of friends and family, you know?"
At a press conference with his lawyers after his charges were dropped, Smollett somberly addressed reporters.
"First of all I want to thank my family, my friends, the incredible people of Chicago and all over the country and the world who have prayed for me, who have supported me and who have showed me so much love," he said. "No one will ever know how much that has meant to me and I will be forever grateful. I want you to know that not for a moment was it in vain. I have been truthful and consistent on every level since day one. I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I’ve been accused of."
Though Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson slammed the prosecution's decision to drop the charges against Smollett, a source told ET that the actor is looking forward to moving on with his life.
"It is the Mayor and the Police Chief who owe Jussie -- owe him an apology -- for dragging an innocent man's character through the mud," Smollett's defense team said in a statement to ET. "Jussie has paid enough."