February 23, 2017


Future Black History Month: Jussie Smollet's Dignified Star Power

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Fuse is once again celebrating an extended Black History Month by highlighting a variety of rising forces who are creating Future Black History before our very eyes. While there are undoubted hardships, there is an understated power that come with being a minority and has utilized and Jussie Smollet is using his magic in an inspiring way to shake up the status quo.

For his first major television interview and performance just months after taking the role of beloved Jamal Lyon on the sensation that is Empire, Smollet subtly "came out of the closet" in a talk with Ellen DeGeneres. But, as he puts it, "there is no closet, there's never been a closet" and instead he treated the entire televised interview just as he would with any other human and chose to remain quiet about his personal life. There was no big magazine cover or dramatic reveal on the matter. Instead he was simply being Jussie and even later recorded another conversation with Ellen to show his appreciation for the LGBTQ trailblazer and how on her show he was simply being "who God made me," before hilariously adding, "I take my mom to the Sound of Music singalong every single year, so, any questions?"

The strength, self-respect and dignity Smollett carries in both his role and personal life act as a role model to anyone, but in particular to black and LGBTQ people who—in these trying times—need someone to look up as inspiration.

Jussie's influence looks to only grow larger with a recording contract with Columbia Records, where he'll tread new territory as a TV-star-turned-major-label recording artist and where he won't need to address "who" he's really singing to, but instead will be able to express himself and his artistry freely without any confines. On the acting front, he'll continue in Empire while expanding his place in Hollywood with a role in the upcoming Alien: Covenant movie coming later this year.

Smollet is undoubtedly proud and chooses how loud he wants to be with it. He is not hiding, he is not shying away from his responsibilities as a black celebrity who is out, but instead is empowered to decide how he wants to move forward. By creating bigger and better opportunities for himself, he is undoubtedly further pushing his message, normalizing what some may think is atypical, and solidifying his place in Future Black History.

We're celebrating Future Black History all month long. Tune in to Fuse and come back to Fuse.tv every day for profiles, videos and more. Find Fuse in your area with our Channel Finder. Below, watch Empire star Ta'Rhonda Jones talk about her connection to the show: