‘Empire’ Is Officially Renewed For Season 6, No Plans For Jussie Smollett To Return [Details]

Posted April 30, 2019

image via Jussie Instagram

Despite all criminal charges being dropped against Jussie Smollett, it looks like the actor will not be returning to the cast of ‘Empire‘ for it’s sixth season.

For weeks, Jussie’s status on the show has been up in the air and he was ultimately written out of the final two episodes of the current fifth season after being accused of faking the attack he claimed happened to him back in January in Chicago.

Well this week, it was announced that the show will indeed get a sixth season as the renewal announcement came directly from the network. With that announcement also came word that Jussie will likely not return to the show.

Fox has issued a statement to E! News confirming there are currently no plans for Smollett’s return.

“By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for season six, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to Empire,” the network said.

Smollett’s final season five episode featured Jamal’s wedding to Kai (Toby Onwumere), and while we can assume he’s now off on his honeymoon, his exit has not yet been addressed.

This week’s episode finds the family dealing with Andre’s (Trai Byers) new/continuing health crisis while Cookie (Henson) gets picked up by AUSA Conway (Alicia Coppola), Lucious (Terrence Howard) is visited by his past, and Becky (Gabourey Sidibe), Hakeem (Bryshere “Yazz” Gray) and Andre put on a show to try to save Empire. Andre gets an assist from “the last person the Lyons expect,” and Cookie may never forgive Lucious ahead of next week’s “heart-stopping” season five finale.

“Empire continues to break barriers with its emotionally powerful storytelling, and it remains a core part of the FOX legacy,” said Michael Thorn, President of Entertainment for Fox Entertainment, in a statement on the renewal. “We want to thank everyone on the show—Taraji, Terrence and the entire cast, as well as Lee, Danny, Brett, Sanaa, Brian, Francie, Dennis and their teams —all of whom have done a tremendous job this season. We know there are so many more stories to tell, and we can’t wait to see what they have in store for Season Six.”

The news comes after his co-stars submitted an open letter that was obtained by E! to the network as a united front petitioning for his return to the show.

On April 19, Howard, Henson and other stars on the show penned a letter, which was obtained by E! News, to Fox and Disney execs as well as other producers on the show and demanded Smollett’s role be an integral part of future seasons. Deadline reports that Wednesday night’s episode of Empire is the last one that features Smollett this season.

In their letter, which echoes some of the central themes of the show, the Empire stars focus on the idea and importance of family and sticking together even through the tough times.

“Together, as a united front, we stand with Jussie Smollett and ask that our co-star, brother and friend be brought back for our sixth season of Empire,” the correspondence began.

The cast acknowledged that the past few months “have been difficult to process” which has all been due to the investigation shifting, new indictments, charges getting dropped and more. However, they argued that it has acted as a major learning experience for Smollett and the cast, and they have witnessed the Jamal Lyon actor grow and mature.

“Throughout Empire’s five seasons working with Jussie and watching how he has conducted himself throughout this traumatic event, we have come to know not just the character Jussie portrays, but also truly come to know Jussie’s personal character,” they wrote. “He is kind. He is compassionate. He is honest and above all he is filled with integrity. He is also innocent and no longer subject to legal uncertainty with the criminal charges against him having been dropped.”

Howard, Henson and others also praised Smollett’s volunteer work and advocacy with organizations such as the Trevor Project, the Rainbow Push Coalition, The Black AIDS Institute and the school he adopted in Chicago.

After mentioning the “extreme political climate in our country” and how it has “made our system of justice and the court of public opinion more unjust,” the writers of the letter returned to the idea of family.

“It is why now, more than ever, we must stand together as a family,” the cast concluded. “A family is there for us in good times and bad. It can cut through the noise and confusion to understand that there is a person in the center of all this who deserves nothing more than to move forward with his life.”

They all said in the letter that they want to keep Smollett on board so “we can all put this behind us and move forward” into their sixth season “as the entire Empire family should.”

The letter was signed by Howard, Henson, Bryshere Y. Gray who plays Hakeem Lyon, Trai Byers who plays Andre Lyon, Gabourey Sidibe who plays Becky and Nicole Ari Parker who is Giselle.

The next episode of ‘Empire’ will air on Wednesday at 8pm.


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More #Empire is coming your way! The Lyons will be back for Season 6 on @foxtv. 🙌👑🦁

A post shared by Empire (@empirefox) on

image via Jussie Instagram After months of turmoil and public scrutiny,
image via Instagram 'Empire' returned on Wednesday from it's winter hiatus
image via Jussie Instagram Despite Chicago Police and the media immediately

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