Tyler Perry, Andy Cohen & More Celebs React to the Jussie Smollett Scandal
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Following the arrest of Jussie Smollett on felony charges of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a fake police report, celebrities from across the country and on both sides of the political divide have started to weigh in on the high-profile and truly unusual legal spectacle.
From celebs who spoke out in support of Smollett when the story of his alleged attack first broke late last month to those commentors and critics who have been skeptical of Smollett's story from the beginning, Thursday's developments stirred up a lot of emotions and some strongly worded hot takes.
While Smollett and his legal team have vehemently denied the Chicago Police's allegations that he orchestrated the alleged attack in an attempt to further his fame and promote his career, there are many who feel the actor has already been convicted in the court of public opinion, and have no idea what to think about this complex and confusing situation.
Director Tyler Perry -- who was one of the first celebs to speak out in support of Smollett following the initial reports of the alleged attack -- took to Instagram on Thursday to share a snapshot of Smollett alongside a police flyer showing two missing men the police have not been able to locate.
"How I wish that the disappearance of Terrance Williams and Felipe Santos could get half as much attention as this Jussie Smollett thing," Perry wrote. "I have personally spoken to Jussie, and he is adamant that he’s telling the truth. Also, everyone that I know who knows him says that he is not the kind of person who would make up such a horrible and awful thing."
"Yet the evidence seems to state otherwise. I’m lost for words," a conflicted Perry continued. "To stoke fears and raise racial tensions is wrong in every situation on ALL SIDES! Yet my prayers are still with him and his family and our Nation."
ET's Courtney Tezeno was on the red carpet at the Essence Black Women In Hollywood Awards in Los Angeles on Thursday night, where she spoke with comic and The Real co-host Loni Love, who commended Perry's take on the story.
"Tyler Perry put up a wonderful Instagram post that actually documented I think how a lot of people are feeling," Love shared. "We all know Jussie. We were shocked by what happened. We tried to be supportive. And the thing is that at the end of the day, the law is the law and he will have his day in court."
"We just hope that whatever is actually happening we can actually do something and we can all learn from this," she added. "It definitely has opened up the conversation and everything you see isn't true."
Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who came out to the Essence Black Women In Hollywood Awards to show her support for the celebratory event, shared her pragmatic and balanced reaction to the new developments.
"I'm watching, I'm listening, and I'm trying to think through what causes [someone] to make certain kinds of decisions. But I am waiting for the final outcome for all of it," she said. "If in fact it is a hoax, I'm disappointed... If, in fact, Jussie has harmed his career, he'll pay a big price for it. Hopefully he can get his life back together if it moves in that direction."
At the same event, Robin Thede, who's previously interviewed Smollett on her show, The Rundown With Robin Thede, said that the biggest issue surrounding the entire situation is that "Jussie's story was believable."
"So no matter where the truth lies, there are people in this country who are MAGA supporters, who do hate black and gay people. So I think that, to me, is the larger issue that we need to worry about, which is, 'Why was that story so believable if it isn't true?'"
"But I don't know what's true or what isn't. But I do know there's a lot of hate that we have to deal with in the black community and that the queer community has to deal with and we need to talk about that. Otherwise we wouldn't have come to his aid as quickly as we did," Thede continued. "But he is a beautiful human being. I wish him the best. And we have work to do as a country that has nothing to do with Jussie and everything to do with people who feel empowered to openly hate people."
Tina Knowles-Lawson, Beyonce's mother, said that she's "praying for Jussie and his family," while Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, spoke about the continued importance of believing survivors first and foremost.
"I think that regardless of what we see in the headlines, we have to maintain what we know for sure: most survivors tell the truth," Burke told ET at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards. "Most victims of violence are telling the truth... We need to maintain that regardless of what we see in a media cycle. We need to maintain that one isolated incident doesn't change the reality that sexual violence is deeply pervasive and most survivors are telling the truth."
As for those who would try to use this one example to try and disprove survivors, Burke cautioned, "If people use this as an excuse, it's because they want to use it as an excuse."
"There have been many incidents of people telling lies about things throughout history, and that doesn't mean that the reality of what we know -- the history of black people being oppressed and LGBTQ people being oppressed and systematically targeted in this country -- hasn't happened," she added. "That's a history that we can't erase by one incident."
Additionally, life coach and motivational speaker Iyanla Vanzant urged people not to "jump to conclusions" and to "consider the internalized oppression and persecution he may be living through."
"We live in a crime and punishment society, but we pick and choose the crimes we pay attention to and the punishment we mete out," she said.
Vanzant also compared Smollett to President Donald Trump, saying, "If [Smollett] did this, the bottom line is he told a lie, but the leader of our country tells one every day. If he did this, it means he's in some kind of pain that went ignored. This happens every day, in every home, in every family, in every community that we don't pay attention to each other's pain."
"... Let us keep an open mind and heart because this is an opportunity for the African American community and the world to practice forgiveness," Vanzant continued. "Because often we set it up so people cannot tell the truth. They cannot. They get persecuted for telling the truth. So if he's willing to share his pain, if he's willing to share his story, I think it's a teachable moment and a lesson for all of us."
"... Let's not make this just about Jussie. Let's look at the bigger picture and the possibilities and the teaching for all of us," she continued. "I personally think that it came to this because so many people were praying... There was no way this could stay secretive, hidden in a dishonorable way, because so many people were praying. I think he is just the demonstration of what's possible. So let's not jump to conclusions."
While Vanzant wouldn't want to have Smollett on an episode of her show, Fix My Life, she would like to have a conversation about what could've led to this point.
"This is not a fixable thing," she said. "What I would love to do is have a conversation so that we get an opportunity to identify with how we do this... If one person is doing it, hundreds of thousands are doing it. This is an opportunity for us to really practice what we preach about forgiveness and redemption and all of that. If we do it for the president every day, let's do it for Jussie."
A number of those who have shared their reactions to the Smollett case have noted how the investigation has monopolized the time and energy of police officers, and how -- if the allegations were to prove true -- that time could have been better spent.
Rapper Eve, a co-host on The Talk, reflected on Smollett's arrest on Thursday's episode, sharing, "When you think about how many man hours it took, how some of those people had sleepless nights, probably didn't go home to their families, to chase down certain things, and then if it all turns out to be a lie? I can understand how you could be skeptical the next time someone walks into your office. And that sucks for that person. Because what that person needs in that moment is not something being skeptical, they need someone being compassionate and believing them."
Eve also lamented the disillusionment that may result from the case.
"[Smollett] has been really vocal about many issues within the black community, within the LGBTQ community, and it's like, you have these young fans who are looking at you, who probably believed you through all this, you've been on a soap box, and now you've let them down," Eve shared.
ET spoke with Smollett's former Empire co-star, Rumer Willis, on Thursday, a day after the actress was revealed to be The Lion on Fox's The Masked Singer, and she cautiously addressed the situation.
"My immediate reaction was just, I'm just devastated for everybody involved," Willis shared. "I think it's just it's really tough, but for me, the most important thing that I hope comes out of all of this, regardless of the outcome of this particular situation, I hope this doesn't put a damper on people's willingness to stand up and advocate for victims and for us to all continue to rally around the LGBTQ community."
Willis went on to stress that people observing the story need to be careful not to jump to conclusions before everything is understood about the allegations against the actor.
"I don't think anyone should make any judgements just yet… I think nobody can really no what's going on except [him]," she shared. "It's just a really tough situation."
As for Andy Cohen -- another celeb who was an outspoken supporter of Smollett's when the story of his alleged attack first surfaced -- the Watch What Happens Live host said he was having a tough time processing all the latest developments and accusations.
"My head is exploding this morning," Cohen tweeted. "I have to get off Twitter. This story is pathetic. All of it."
Meanwhile, British TV personality and news commentator Piers Morgan responded to the situation with the same even-handed and level-headed professionalism and integrity that he's built his rage-baiting career on with an editorial calling Smollett -- who, again, has not been convicted of any crime at the moment, and denies the allegations against him -- the "most hideous, reprehensible, disgusting, snivelling little liar."
"Jussie Smollett's greed, hatred for Trump & craving to be a celebrated 'victim' made him fake a racial, homophobic attack," Morgan tweeted alongside a link to his latest op-ed. "He deserves no mercy, no sympathy, just our fury."
Here's a look at how some other Hollywood stars and political commentators who are weighing in on the new allegations:
For more on the complex and still-unfolding story of Smollett's alleged attack and legal scandal, watch the video below.
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