Empire is returning for a sixth season, sans Jussie Smollett. The show was renewed but as of now there are “no plans” for Smollett to reprise his role as Jamal Lyons, Fox said in a statement Tuesday (April 30).
“By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for season 6, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to Empire,” the network explained.
Last week, Empire’s cast penned a letter urging show network execs and producers to keep Smollett on the show.
A rep for the 36-year-old actor confirmed that his future on the series is still in limbo. “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 rep said according to the Hollywood Reporter. “Most importantly he is grateful to Fox and Empire leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support.”
Smollett has been centered in controversy since Chicago police accused him of committing a hoax that he maintains was a racial and homophobic attack. A grand jury indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts that have since been dropped.