Taraji P. Henson says “hate will not win” when it comes to her Empire co-star Jussie Smollett, who was attacked last week in Chicago.
The 48-year-old actress — who plays Smollett’s mom, Cookie Lyon, on the hit Fox series — appeared on the Today show on Monday, where she shared what she said to him after the attack.
“I just told him to walk in his truth, just stay the Jussie that everybody loves,” Henson said. “And you saw the outpouring of love that he had, so, he has touched a lot of people in his career. So, I just told him, ‘Just walk in your truth baby, no one can take that.'”
“Jussie is love, that’s who he is and that’s all he knows,” she added. “So, in this situation, hate will not win. It will not.”
Henson later appeared on Live With Kelly and Ryan, where she talked about how Smollett’s been coping with the attack.
“He’s resilient and when your very fiber is love and that’s all you know…. that’s who is he,” she said. “He is very resilient. What’s not to love? What was overwhelming for him was the response, that’s important. It was very traumatic.”
Henson previously showed her support for Smollett after the attack with a passionate Instagram post.
“I wish what happened to my baby was just one big bad joke but it wasn’t and we all feel his pain right now,” she wrote. “@jussiesmollett is pure love to the bone AND THAT IS WHY SO MANY ARE FEELING HIS PAIN BECAUSE IT IS OUR PAIN!!! I tell you one thing HATE WILL NOT WIN!!!! My baby is resilient and love still lives in him. The devil and his minions are very busy right now but one thing is for sure and two things are for certain #GODIS and that is all I know.”
Smollett took the stage at The Troubadour in Los Angeles on Saturday night for a performance that was scheduled prior to the attack, and emotionally thanked fans for their support.
“I’m not fully healed yet, but I’m going to,” he said. “And I’m gonna stand strong with y’all, and I had to be here tonight. It sounds powerful but I couldn’t let those mother f**kers win.”
As previously reported, a source told ET that Smollett was walking around Chicago early last Tuesday morning when two men started yelling racial and homophobic slurs at him, before repeatedly hitting him. The men then poured a substance on him (believed to be bleach), according to the source, and one of the attackers put a rope around his neck.
Last Wednesday, Chicago police released photos of persons of interest. The investigation is ongoing.
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