Disgraced actor Jussie Smollett professed his innocence and insisted he’s “not a piece of s–t.”
Smollett, who was found to have paid two men to pretend to be racist and homophobic Donald Trump supporters and attack him with a noose and bleach, was sprung from a Chicago jail in March after serving a six-day sentence.
The 40-year-old actor addressed his highly publicized trial on Sway Calloway’s SiriusXM show, “Sway in the Morning”, claiming he did not lie about the attack.
“If I had done this, I’d be a piece of s–t. And I don’t think that’s really questionable,” Smollett said in the episode aired on Monday.
Smollett — best known for his role as Jamal Lyon on Fox’s “Empire” — said him being a black gay man makes it impossible for him to stage the attack.
“If I had done something like this, it would mean that I stuck my fist in the pain of black African Americans in this country for over 400 years,” he told Sway.
“It would mean that I stuck my fist in the fears of the LGBTQ community all over the world. I am not that motherf—er. Never have been. Don’t need to be.”
Appearing to wipe the sweat off his forehead several times throughout the interview, Smollett said he used his six-day prison stay at Cook County Jail as an opportunity to “reset and regain clarity” by fasting.
“I was not fasting for lent. I was fasting because that’s what we do in my family, we fast for clarity,” he said, adding he’s never “been as clear as I was for those six and a half days.”
The actor said the support he received from his family, in particular his mother, got him through his week behind bars.
“My family — the most wonderful human beings — I live and die for those people. Let me tell you something, mommy don’t go nowhere. Mommy is a house cat.
“She was like, ‘Watch me stay in LA and my baby is in Chicago.’ She did not play,” he said while fighting back tears.
Smollett opened up about his experience of being locked in a cell for six days, saying he was thrown into a psych ward.
“Lord knows I wanted to get out. I was in a f–ing psych ward … I was sleeping on a restraint bed but I wasn’t restrained,” he said.
“I have to keep it real, everybody inside was very kind and when I left, I thanked them all. I said, ‘I don’t know what y’all think either way, but the fact that you didn’t let me know what you think either way and you just showed me respect I’m grateful for.’”
Smollett said he was forced to “surrender” to himself during his brief prison stint.
“There’s something about being in there and you have no choice but to surrender yourself. Not to the system, not to a judge or a bunch of old white men ironically explaining to you about the history of hate crimes, but you’re surrendering to yourself,” he said. “You’re just left there with you, your thoughts, and these walls.”
“I believe that the prison system needs to be dismantled,” he added.
Smollett was initially sentenced to five months in jail following his conviction on five counts of felony disorderly conduct for lying to police. He was ordered to pay the city of Chicago $120,000 in restitution and a $25,000 fine after being found guilty.
Defense lawyers argued that Smollett was unconstitutionally charged twice for the same crime after the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office originally agreed to dismiss his case in 2019.
During the interview with Sway, Smollett’s friend and “B-Boy Blues” co-star Brandee Evans joined the fun, gushing over her friendship with the troubled actor.
“This is my friend for real,” Evans said. “I love Jussie. Jussie has been my ride or die. When my ex-husband left me I was literally at Jussie’s house. I love my friend, he has been there through everything with me.”
Smollett found fame at an early age, landing roles in films such as “The Mighty Ducks” and “North” at age 10.
The child star, who hails from California, went on to star alongside his five real-life siblings in ABC’s “On Our Own” from 1994 until 1995.
Smollett later landed a lead role in Patrik-Ian Polk’s LGBT-themed comedy-drama “The Skinny.”
After putting his name on the map in Hollywood, the actor went on to guest star on “The Mindy Project” in 2012, and “Revenge” in 2014.
Later that year, Smollett landed the role of a lifetime in “Empire” opposite Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard. His character was cut from the final two episodes of the show’s fifth season as a result of his hate crime controversy.