As the jury continues its deliberations Thursday, some believe that due to the damage to his reputation, Josie Smollett actually lost regardless of the decision.
After closing arguments ended on Wednesday, the jury is now tasked with deciding whether the former “Empire” actor will be found guilty of committing a fictitious hate crime against himself with brothers Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo. Since the scandal broke in January 2019, Smollett’s public image has only been affected by the case and whether he committed a crime by allegedly lying to the police.
The incident led to him writing about the final season of “Empire” and he claimed he had not received any acting work since then. Although he directed the feature film “B-Boy Blues”, he struggles to find a distributor. However, it may be too late for Smollett to save his career from the wreckage of this incident and what the subsequent case in court caused.
“If Jussie Smollett is going to find redemption, celebrities and media-hungry policymakers will stand behind him, but that hasn’t happened,” Evan Nierman, CEO of public relations and crisis firm Red Banyan and author of “A Crisis Avoided,” told Fox News Digital. “The initial support has been replaced by people running to Hollywood Hills to avoid being associated with it.”
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Smollett faces six counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police about the attack. They are low-level felony and potentially carry a sentence of up to three years in prison, but legal experts say if convicted, he would likely be probationed and ordered to perform community service. However, after he has testified, the judge may wish to issue a harsher sentence on him. Nirman notes that regardless of whether he avoids a prison sentence, Smollett’s future as an actor looks bleak.
“Ultimately, it is Smollett’s brand and future career that ended up taking the most hits,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine future employers embracing someone who is seen as further fueling racial discord in America.” “Any future acting opportunities that come his way will be small, and even those that likely won’t appear for some time. The jury will make the final decision as to whether he is guilty or innocent of these specific charges, but whatever their verdict Smollett has already lost.”
Smollett and the people in his orbit seem to be aware of the uphill battle he faces after the trial, no matter what the verdict is. In an effort to salvage his image in the court of public opinion, several friends in acting and activism would hang out outside the courtroom during each day of his trial, giving speeches in support of his assembled television cameras.
‘GMA’ host Robin Robert: The story of Jussie Smollett’s attack was credible at the time of the interview
People like famous opera singer and “Empire” star Lauren Michelle, Smollett’s New York patron Damon Marks and activist Bella BAHHS were just some of the people who were willing to speak up for him abroad.
Daily detours at the mic are likely part of a broader strategy that has been underway since Smollett’s trial began in Chicago last week to ensure the 39-year-old gets out of this scandal and legal problems with his reputation and career as healthy as possible.
“I lost my livelihood,” Smollett, who took the witness stand on Monday, testified. His media relations team, led by a former Chicago TV reporter, released a statement to The Associated Press from family friend Vania Davis, who said that Smollett had already lost income and “many career opportunities” due to “a character assassination and a disinformation campaign.” Chicago Police.
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“This is damage to his personal reputation, to his career and his soul,” said Davis, whose sister is civil rights activist Angela Davis. “He could easily have sued, with a slap in the wrist, and then moved on with his life. But he chose instead to stand up to injustice.”
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Smollett, who is black and gay, continued to assert that he was the victim of a hate crime attack by people who yelled racist and homophobic things at him while he was returning home at 2 a.m. from a Subway sandwich shop. However, Chicago police investigators claimed that he worked with the Osondaero brothers to orchestrate the attack for publicity.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.