Terrence Howard has publicly declared his support for his “Empire” co-star Jussie Smollett following his arrest.
The “Empire” actor and singer turned himself in to authorities on Thursday, February 21 after he was accused by police of staging the reported hate crime which took place outside his Chicago, Illinois apartment in January.
He was later dropped from the final two episodes of “Empire”‘s fifth season, prompting his co-star Howard, who plays Smollett’s onscreen father Lucious Lyon, to take to social media to show his support.
“All your lil homies got you… We love the hell outta you (sic),” Howard wrote alongside a video featuring Smollett playing with the “Hustle & Flow” star’s son, Hero, while on a private plane.
Actor and model Taye Diggs commented on the post, writing, “Atta boy!” while fellow “Empire” star Gabourey Sidibe left three red heart emojis.
However, not everyone applauded Terrence for standing by his TV son, and critics made their feelings of disgust and disappointment clear in remarks made under the video.
Unphased by the backlash, Terrence replied to one fan who had made negative statements about Smollett.
“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 on Thursday, Smollett – who plays openly gay singer/songwriter Jamal Lyon on the show – posted bail and returned to the set of the TV show, where he reportedly apologised 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.