Shortly after news broke out about Jussie Smollett’s alleged attack, he received an outpour of support until police flipped the script and said they believe Smollett staged the whole thing. They even allege that his motive was to increase his celebrity profile. That clearly didn’t work out for him and many believed that there wouldn’t be a chance his career would be able to be revamped. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case as the Empire writers are reportedly plotting on his return. 

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In late April, Empire was renewed for a sixth season but it was reported that Smollett’s return was unlikely. “By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for season 6, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to Empire,” Fox said in a statement. Immediately afterward, his castmates rallied for his return and it appears to have worked. According to Variety, writers for the show are plotting on Smollett’s character’s return to the show with an expectation that he’ll be back towards the second half of the season. 

Sources close to the production said that the Smollett controversy sparked tension among the predominantly Black cast, who believe that Smollett is innocent, and the predominantly white below-the-line crew, who think that Smollett is guilty. There’s hope that the tension will die down between seasons, given Smollett returns. No final decision has officially been made.