Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV – the studio that produces Empire – said in a statement to HuffPost on Tuesday that Jussie’s character, Jamal, is currently not written into the season.
“By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for season six, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to Empire’” the statement said.
A spokeswoman for Jussie Smollett confirmed that the actor will not return to the show for now.
“We’ve been told that Jussie will not be on Empire in the beginning of the season but he appreciates they have extended his contract to keep Jamal’s future open,” the spokeswoman told HuffPost. “Most importantly he is grateful to Fox and Empire leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support.”
The news came about a week after the actor’s fellow Empire cast mates called for his return to the show in Season 6.
Jussie was cut from the end of the fifth season in light of allegations he staged a racist and homophobic hate crime against himself in Chicago and then filed a false police report.
In a letter to several network executives, his co-stars Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard defended his reputation.
“Throughout Empire’s five seasons working with Jussie and watching how he has conducted himself throughout this traumatic event, we have come to know not just the character Jussie portrays, but also truly come to know Jussie’s personal character,” the letter read. “He is kind. He is compassionate. He is honest and above all he is filled with integrity.”
The actor was charged in February with filing a false report after an investigation by Chicago police and the FBI. In March, he was charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct relating to the alleged hoax. He pleaded not guilty, and charges were dropped later that month.
The cast mates’ letter last week said the “extreme political climate in our country has only made our system of justice and the court of public opinion more unjust.”