With so few successful LGBT members in the media, it is important to recognise and support the openly gay stars that we do have. Jussie Smollett performs double duty for minorities as a successful gay, black man.
Best known for his starring role on the international smash hit Empire, Smollett has been celebrated for both his acting chops, and his killer vocals.
Born on June, 21 1983 in Santa Rosa, California Smollett began his career as a child star, modelling for ad campaigns around New York that got him noticed, and lead to his appearances in movies The Mighty Ducks, and North as well as co-starring with his five siblings in the sitcom On Our Own. After a lengthy break from Hollywood in his adolescence, Smollett made his comeback as a singer with his EP Poisoned Hearts Club and as an actor in the LGBT film The Skinny.
Following his resurgence, he scored guest-starring spots on the popular shows The Mindy Project and Revenge while appearing in movies Born to Race: Fast Track, and Ask Me Anything.
In 2015, he debuted his role as Jamal Lyon on the TV show Empire, a commercial, and critical success that instantly became a cultural phenomenon. His character was that of a gay man, trying to succeed in the music business while at odds with his father, and his own sexuality. The character was taken to the heart of the public, with many praising Smollett’s role. He told Vanity Fair, “I received a letter from a kid that said Jamal gave him the courage to come out to his parents. It touched me deeply and it’s an honor to help people.”. That same year, Smollett landed a recording contract with Columbia Record under which he released ‘F.U.W.’, and is working on his feature length album.
Due to his characters sexuality, Smollett avoided the rampant questions about his personal life including his own sexuality until deciding to come out as gay in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres on her daytime talk show. During the interview he stated that he was never in the closet, but did not speak openly about his sexuality due to wanting to protect his own privacy.
Currently Smollett is set to star in the upcoming sci-fi sequel Alien: Covenant, holds a guest spot on his sisters show Underground and regularly appeared as a co-host on Live! with Kelly while the show searched for its male replacement.