Cue the haters, ladies and gentlemen.
Empire’s creator, Lee Daniels revealed that he and Jussie Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon in the hit series, have received death threats as a result of the ongoing storyline regarding homophobia. At the 2015 Produced By Conference in LA on Sunday, Daniels’ referred specifically to a scene from an episode in which Jamal is thrown into the trash can by the contentious and intolerant Luscious Lyon, his father.
“I have to relate to these people,” Daniels said at the conference. “That trash can scene? It happened.”
Daniels’ and Smollett are both renowned figures in the LGBT community and have been praised for infusing the issue of homophobia within the black community into the storyline. As for the idea of a little boy dressed in his mother’s clothing being heaved into a trashcan? Daniels’ fetched back to his own experiences growing up with a father who tossed him into a trashcan after seeing him walk down the steps in his mother’s red heels, while plaguing him with hateful slurs and the idea that he would “never amount to anything.”
The two-time Academy Award-winning director also cited other reasons for the plot surrounding homophobia, such as the black community’s bigoted attitudes towards homosexuals, and closeted men who fear harassment and ridicule.
Daniels’ father was a police officer who was killed in the line of duty in the 1970s. He said that if his father were still alive, his views might have changed.
Despite the death threats, Daniels said that he would continue to address the issue of homophobia in his work until it is resolved. – Diamond Hillyer