Empire Star Jussie Smollett Tells Ellen "There Is No Closet"

Photo: Michael Lavine/FOX.
Empire star Jussie Smollett's character Jamal Lyons made headlines both in the world of the show as well as the real one when he came out publicly in a recent episode. Just like many actors who play gay characters on TV, the subject of Smollett's sexuality often comes up in interviews. Until recently, Smollett would plead the fifth when it came to his personal life, choosing to keep it private. It really shouldn't matter, since someone's personal life isn't relevant when their job is to bring a fictional character to life.

During his first appearance on Ellen today, though, Smollett decided it was time to announce something. After taping his interview, he approached Ellen backstage after the show. He said that it was very important to him that his first performance and interview had been with Ellen, because he respects her role in the LGBT community. That's why he was wanted to say something, because it's about staying true to yourself, which Ellen has always done.

"[I]t was really important to me to make sure that it got across that there is no closet," Smollett said. "There’s never been a closet. That I’ve been in. I don’t own a closet, I got a dresser, but I don’t have a closet, but I have a home and that is my responsibility to protect that home."

He chooses not to discuss his personal life not because he's hiding anything, but because he wants to keep some parts of his life private. "'Let's not read into it the wrong way...It is in no way to hide or deny who God made me. Ya know? We’re humans, and we love and we do all that good stuff. So I’m honored for this opportunity and I honored to be here with you," he concluded.

Ellen agreed. "I think the most important thing is talent. The most important thing is what we do. We don't want anything to get in the way of that, but there are questions out there, and...it was my responsibility to at least give you the opportunity [to address them]."

"Boom. Now you don't even gotta ask no more. I told Ellen. Who else do I need to tell?" Smollett joked.

Watch the whole interview below.

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