Sunday 24 March 2019

Black actor 'faked race attack to boost salary'


Jussie Smollett. Photo: Reuters
Jussie Smollett. Photo: Reuters

Nick Allen

One of America's leading black TV actors has been charged with staging a racist attack on himself in a "despicable publicity stunt" which he hoped would get him a raise on his $65,000 an episode salary.

Jussie Smollett (36), who stars in 'Empire', was accused by police in Chicago of "exploiting the pain and anger of racism" in a "shameful" attempt to boost his own profile.

The saga began on January 29 when the actor reported he had been attacked by two white men who put a noose around his neck and yelled "This is MAGA country," a reference to Donald Trump's campaign slogan 'Make America Great Again'.

Following his arrest, the US president wrote on Twitter: "Jussie Smollett - what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?"

The actor, who is gay, also claimed his attackers hurled homophobic insults at him during the incident at 2am in downtown Chicago.

Police charged him with making a false statement, which could lead to a three-year jail sentence. A police photograph showed him staring impassively at the camera.

In a press conference, Eddie Johnson, Chicago's police superintendent, lambasted the star, accusing him of "dragging Chicago through the mud" by "staging a hate crime". Mr Johnson said: "The stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary."

© Daily Telegraph London

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