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Op-Ed: Briefly Sharing The Stage With Smollett

Screenshot of Matt C. Abbott holding a microphone (center); Jussie Smollett on the right wearing a blue jacket with his fist in the air. (Empire co-star Terrence Howard to the left, also with his fist in the air.

LAKE GENEVA, WI – I guess this could be considered a footnote in my life. Several years ago I briefly shared the stage with now-convicted felon Jussie Smollett during the filming of an episode of Empire. In fact, I worked as a background actor – usually playing a roadie – on several episodes.

The image shown is a screenshot of me holding a microphone; Smollett is on my left wearing a blue jacket with his fist in the air. (Empire co-star Terrence Howard is behind me and to my right, also with his fist in the air.)

Smollett never spoke to me, but there were times on set when he used vulgar language in his interactions with others. Not exactly shocking, of course.

One somewhat humorous anecdote:


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In the concert scene the screenshot is from, Smollett’s character in the show, Jamal Lyon, is supposed to experience stage fright due to trauma from a gunshot wound he suffered in a previous episode. He walks up to the microphone, starts to sing, freaks out at the seeing the crowd and bright lights, then runs off the stage having a panic attack.

After a few takes, Smollett became agitated and walked off stage while saying angrily and loudly (paraphrased), “Look, I don’t want to be a diva, but I can’t deal with this right now. This is a difficult scene!”

Just off stage right, I was standing next to Howard, who said equally loudly, “Don’t worry, Jussie, you’re not being a diva… You’re being a b—h!”

Bottom line: I’m glad Smollett was convicted of the hate crime hoax. He’s clearly an unapologetic narcissist.


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