Queen Latifah is continuing to support her pal Jussie Smollett as he faces accusations of paying two brothers to beat him up as part of a publicity stunt.
The Empire actor claimed he was the victim of a hate crime outside his Chicago, Illinois apartment, telling police officers two white men beat him up and tied a noose around his neck while yelling homophobic and racial slurs.
Smollett also appeared on TV recalling the attack.
The actor is now facing a felony charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report in the hope the hoax would boost his career and salary.
He has been dropped as a regular on Empire amid the drama, but Queen Latifah, who appeared on the show as Carlotta Brown, is standing by her man.
In a new Through Her Eyes interview for Yahoo News, the Chicago star tells host Zainab Salbi: “The guy I’ve seen has always been someone who cares about people, who cares about others, and who’s very kind and who’s always been cool and sweet.
“That’s just the guy I know. So until I can see some definitive proof, which I haven’t seen yet, then, you know, I gotta go with him until I see otherwise.”
Empire star Terrence Howard has also publicly declared his support for Smollett following his arrest last month.
“All your lil homies got you…,” Jussie’s TV father wrote alongside a video featuring Smollett playing with the star’s son, Hero. “We love the hell outta you (sic).”
He also replied to one fan who made negative statements about Smollett, adding: “The Jussie I know could never even conceive of something so unconscious and ugly,” he responded. “His innocence or judgment is not for any of us to decide. Stay in your lane and my lane is empathy and love and compassion for someone I’ve called my son for five years. It’s God’s job to judge and it’s ours to love and hope, especially for those that we claim to have loved.”
Following his arrest, Smollett posted bail and returned to the set of the TV show, where he reportedly apologized to his co-stars and the crew and insisted he was innocent.
However, executive producers of the show, including co-creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, decided to cut his character from the last episodes of season five while they await the next developments in the criminal process.