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Jurnee Smollett-Bell speaks out on brother Jussie's public scandal

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Jurnee Smollett-Bell has spoken about her brother’s alleged staged hate crime in a new interview, saying it’s been “painful” for their family.

The Birds Of Prey actress, who maintains her brother’s innocence, said the incident has been an ordeal for the whole family, and that she was already in “a very dark space” when it happened.

  • Read more: Jurnee Smollett-Bell on Birds of Prey box office disappointment: “the narrative that it became was ludicrous”

Her older brother Jussie was accused of orchestrating a racial hate crime in January 2019, to which he pleaded not guilty. The singer and actor told police that he was physically attacked outside his apartment building by two men in ski masks who used racial and homophobic slurs.

Despite his charges being dropped in March 2019 on condition of doing community service and forfeiting his bond, in February this year Jussie was indicted on six counts of lying to the Chicago Police Department. The legal battle is currently awaiting a ruling.

Actress Jurnee Smollett-Bell (L) and Jussie Smollett attend the 48th NAACP Image Awards at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 11, 2017 in Pasadena, California. CREDIT: David Livingston/Getty Images

“It’s been fucking painful, one of the most painful things my family’s ever experienced,” Jurnee told The Hollywood Reporter. “To love someone as much as we love my brother, and to watch someone who you love that much go through something like this, that is so public, has been devastating.”

She continued: “I was already in a very dark space for a number of reasons, and I’ve tried to not let it make me pessimistic. But everyone who knows me knows that I love my brother, and I believe my brother.”

The fall-out from the alleged incident caused Jussie to lose his role in hip-hop business TV series, Empire.

Jurnee said that her brother has been singing, writing, and working on music during his time away from the show. “I mean, fuck, man, I look at him sometimes and I’m like, ‘He’s so strong,’” she added.

Meanwhile, Jurnee spoke to NME recently about her experience starring as the Black Canary in Suicide Squad spin-off Birds Of Prey.

Responding to the film’s poor box office performance despite thumbs up from fans and critics alike, Jurnee said: “I feel like the narrative that it became was kind of ludicrous. It’s not my job to pay attention to any of that stuff really, but the fans loved it and they’re still loving it.

“I also think people aren’t aware of the fact that in the grand scheme of the average comic book film, the budget wasn’t nearly as large as others. So I don’t think it’s so fair to compare it in that sense. Do the fans love it? Yes. Did the studio make its money back? Yes, job well done.”

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