Smollett sat down to detail how he felt during the controversy and why he didn’t want to be seen as just another gay man who got beat up.
The bulk of his court case is behind him, and now that he has been released from jail, Jussie Smollett is back on the scene. We all witnessed the drama that unfolded from the “did he or didn’t he stage a hoax” madness—a moment in pop culture history where Smollett was on the receiving end of a backlash. Throughout the years, Smollett kept his visibility minimal and didn’t sit down for many interviews, but he recently caught up with Sway Calloway to detail his experience.
“I didn’t wanna do an interview,” he said of his 2019 chat with ABC News. “I love and respect Robin Roberts… I did not want to do that interview. That interview wasn’t for me, that was for my character.”
Smollett claimed it took him a full year before he watched the interview back.
“I watched it and I was mortified. I mean, I was mortified. I mean, I cringed at just the—every single word that I said in that interview was the truth, but there was a certain level of performative nature that came from it because I didn’t want to be there,” he said. “I was so angry and so offended that I had to go on national television and explain something that happened to me. And it was so political, and it was all of those things, and I found myself dealing with my own internalized homophobia.”
The openly gay actor also stated that his desire was “to represent all of us that had been assaulted based on who we are… but I also didn’t wanna be associated with people who had been attacked.”
“I’m genuinely sorry to say this… I felt like I just became a f*ggot that got his ass beat,” he said. “Or at least I felt like that’s what people saw me as. And so, I was trying so hard to, like, the posturing of, he hit me and then I hit his ass back and I was just like, ‘Oh my God… You look ridiculous.'”
His family and friends also made sure to limit his access to the internet so he would be faced with a barrage of critics. When he did looks at what was being said, he was dejected.
“Worst idea ever,” said Smollett. “I really saw what it was and it was so painful. Cause I was like, ‘Ooh, he said that about me. Oh my God. Oh, she said that. What?” Watch his interview with Sway Calloway below.