Empire actor Jussie Smollett has given his first interview since surviving a racist, homophobic attack in Chicago last month that left him hospitalized.
Smollett sat down with Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts to discuss his assault, in which two men wearing ski masks placed a noose around his neck, shouted slurs and poured an unknown chemical substance on him. Police are currently investigating the January 29 attack as a “possible hate crime.”
Smollett told Robins:
“I just want young people, young members of the LGTBQ community, young black children to know how strong they are, to know the power they hold in their little pinky... I get threatened all the time on Instagram and Twitter and DMs and things like that. You know, I’m a public figure. I’m very outspoken. Sometimes maybe too outspoken, but its who I am. I get the idea of pissing people off, that you’re gonna rub people the wrong way.”
On the verge of tears, Smollett described his frustration with conservative media’s portrayal of his attack as an alleged hate crime and desire to find footage of the assault:
“I want that video found so badly for probably four reasons. Number one, I want them to find the people that did it. Number two, I want them to stop being able to say ‘alleged attack.’ Number three, I want them to see that I fought back. And I want a little gay boy, who might watch this, to see that I fought fucking back. And it doesn’t take anything away from people that are not able to do that, but I fought back. They ran off, I didn’t.”
“I was talking to a friend and I said, ‘I just want them to find them,’ and she said, ‘Sweetie, they’re not going to find them.’ That just made me so angry because I’m just going to be left here with this? You know what I’m saying? I’m just going to be left here? So they get to go free? And go about their life and possibly attack someone else? And I’m here left with the aftermath of this bull? That’s not cool to me. That’s not cool to me. That’s not okay. I understand how difficult it will be to find them, but we gotta.”
When asked what he would say to a young gay person, he responded simply, “Learn to fight... Learn to be a fighter. I’m not advocating violence at all, so let’s be clear about that. If you’re going to die, fight until you do. Because if you don’t fight, you have no chance. I have fought for love. I’m an advocate.”
According to the interview, Smollett received a threatening letter to Fox studios, Empire’s parent company, full of an unidentified powder one week before the attack. “The return address said, in big red caps, MAGA. Did I make that up, too?”
Watch the interview below.