Jussie Smollett regrets making that infamous meeting with Robin Roberts in 2019. In a rare interview, the actor said he was “shamed” to look back on it for the first time last year.
Smollett chatted with SiriusXM’s Sway Calloway to promote B-boy blueshis first project since he was fired Rich when police discovered he had staged his own hate crime. The 40-year-old actor shed new light on his mindset three years ago, revealing he had been unaware of the online backlash for quite some time. Smollett, who has been sentenced to 150 days in prison for lying to the police, has maintained his innocence but wishes he would speak differently.
“I didn’t want to do an interview,” Smollett continued Sway in the morningHe explained that he wanted to respond directly to the doubters on social media first. His team noted that the videos – which he still has on his phone – appeared “too angry” and “defensive”. “I love and respect Robin Roberts … I didn’t mean to do this interview. This interview wasn’t for me, it was for my character.”
Smollett didn’t actually watch the interview until it was played by prosecutors at last year’s trial.
“I looked at it and I was embarrassed. I mean I was embarrassed. I mean, I winced because every single word I said in that interview was the truth, but there was a certain amount of performative nature that came from not wanting 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 those things, and I found myself coming apart with my own internalized homophobia.”
Smollett, who is black and gay, said he tries to “represent all of us who have been attacked based on who we are … but I also didn’t want to be associated with people who have been attacked.”
“I’m really sorry to say that … I felt like I just got drunk because his ass was spanked,” he continued. “Or at least that’s how I felt people saw me. And so I tried so hard to pose, he slapped me and then I slapped his ass back and I was like, ‘Oh my god… You look ridiculous.'”
Smollett stands by everything he said during the interview, but at the time “didn’t know what was coming.” A little over a week later, he was arrested for making a false police report. Authorities claim the actor staged the attack to further his career, a narrative Smollett denies.
“If I were to do something, it wouldn’t look like a sacrifice. It would look more like someone strong,” he said, noting that he didn’t need “any kind of advancement.” in his career. “I’ve been up and down.”
Smollett’s family took his cellphone away just as the scandal was beginning to explode.
“When I say I was closed off from the world, I was closed off from the world,” he said. “I wasn’t allowed to go on social media.”
The actor chose Google himself “about a year later.”
“Worst idea ever,” he declared. “I really saw what it was and it was so painful. Because I was like, ‘Oh, he said that about me. Oh my God. Oh, she said that. What?”
One person who did not disappoint the actor is his former Rich co-star Taraji P. Henson. The two have maintained a friendship and she helped fund his new film.
“I was in Atlanta with Taraji the day before yesterday. this is my heart My heart, we had the best time going to brunch,” Smollett said. “I love this woman. It’s inexplicable how much I love this woman and she is literally one of my best friends in the whole world.”
Smollett served six days in jail after his March conviction but was released when he appealed his 2021 conviction.