Smollett Scandal: Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard, Stars of Empire, Are Appealing to Fox to Rehire Actor

Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard, stars of Empire, are appealing to Fox for their controversial co-star Jussie Smollett to return for the show’s sixth season.

Henson, Howard, and the rest of the top cast penned a lette April 19 to Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier, Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment chair Dana Walden, Fox Entertainment president Michael Thorn, Empire co-creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, and other executive producers on the series, Variety confirmed.

“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,” read the letter.  It is signed by Bryshere Y. Gray, Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe, and Nicole Ari Parker.

Smollett has insisted on his innocence after he was charged with 16 felony charges, which were dropped on March 26, for staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself in January.

He had to forfeit a $10,000 bond and was given credit for community service.

The letter was delivered hours before Smollett’s final appearance on the fifth season, which will feature a wedding between his character, middle son Jamal Lyon, and Kai (Toby Onwumere).

In the letter, the actors recognized Smollett’s professional conduct on the set and maintained his innocence, referencing his dropped charges. They also noted the circumstances around his trial, writing “It’s clearer every day that the extreme political climate in our country has only made our system of justice and the court of public opinion more unjust.”

Daniels said that the players are currently “in discussions” regarding Smollett’s fate. Sources say that a renewal for “Empire” is a near lock, but that whether Smollett will be kept on the show is still unknown.