Jussie Smollett Biography

Jussie Smollett is an American actor, photographer, and singer known for his versatile acting skills and his advocacy for LGBT rights. He gained popularity for his role as Jamal Lyon in the television series ‘Empire’ and further solidified his place in the film industry with a role in Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien: Covenant.’ Smollett began his career as a child artist and has since made a successful comeback, captivating audiences with his talent. In addition to his acting career, he has also made a name for himself in the music industry, signing a record deal with ‘Columbia Records’ and releasing his debut extended play ‘Poisoned Hearts Club.’ Smollett is proud to be a black gay man and uses his platform to support causes such as HIV victims, LGBT rights, and the fight against racism.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Justin Smollett
  • Age: 41 Years, 41 Year Old Males
  • Family:
    • Father: Joel Smollett
    • Mother: Janet Smollett
    • Siblings: Jake Smollett, Jazz Smollett, Jocqui Smollett, Jojo Smollett, Jurnee Smollett-Bell
  • Born Country: United States
  • Gays
  • Actors
  • Height: 6’0″ (183 cm), 6’0″ Males
  • U.S. State: California, African-American From California

Childhood & Early Life

Jussie Smollett was born Jussie Langston Mikha Smollett on 21 June, 1982, in Santa Rosa (Soma County), California, USA, to Janet and Joel. His father is Ashkenazi Jewish and his mother is Afro-American. He grew up along with his siblings, Jake, Jojo, Jocqui, Jazz, and Jurnee. His siblings grew up to become actors. He graduated from ‘Paramus Catholic High School’ in Paramus, New Jersey. Smollett revealed to his parents that he was gay when he was 19 years old.

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Early Career

From the age of five, Jussie was a known face on TV; he was often seen in numerous commercials until he landed his first movie role in the film ‘The Mighty Ducks.’ He was signed for the role of Terry Hall in the 1992 Stephen Herek’s American sports-comedy film ‘The Mighty Ducks’ which was produced under the banner, ‘Walt Disney Pictures.’ While filming the project, he worked with Emilio Estevez and Joshua Jackson. Following his appearance in the film, he was seen in the 1993 TV miniseries ‘Queen.’ In the series, he was seen alongside Halle Berry, playing the role of Simon, the son of the lead character. The show was based on Alex Haley’s novel, ‘Queen: The Story of an American Family.’ In 1994, he starred alongside his siblings on ‘ABC’ network’s sitcom ‘On Our Own.’ In the show, Jussie and his siblings played orphans and their elder brother, played by Ralph Harris, takes up the responsibility of raising his younger siblings. He also landed the role of Adam in the 1994 American comedy film ‘North’ which was based on Alan Zweibel’s novel. The film starred Elijah Wood and was also Scarlett Johansson’s debut film.

Break and Comeback

He took a break from appearing in feature films and TV series. While still on a break, Jussie featured as Mike in a short film titled ‘Pitch This.’ He made his comeback by playing Barry Stassen in an episode titled ‘Josh and Mindy’s Christmas Party’ (2012) in the TV series ‘The Mindy Project.’ During his break, he focused on his vocal skills and ended up releasing his debut EP ‘Poisoned Hearts Club’ (2012), comprising of seven songs. In 2012, he took on the lead role of Magnus in the LGBT comedy drama film ‘The Skinny’ where he was seen alongside Blake Young-Fountain who played the role of Sebastian. 2014 was a busy year for him; he featured in two Hollywood movies – as Tariq in ‘Born to Race: Fast Track’ and as Nico Demper in the Allison Burnett film ‘Ask Me Anything’ where he was seen alongside Britt Robertson, Justin Long, and Christian Slater. He also guest-starred in the ‘Ashes’ episode of the soap opera, ‘Revenge.’

Career Breakthrough

Jussie’s best performance is undoubtedly his portrayal of Jamal Lyon in Fox’s musical TV series ‘Empire.’ The show is based on a hip-hop music company called ‘Empire Entertainment’ and the rifts between the families of the founders of the company. ‘Empire’ was aired in 2015, and Jussie played Jamal Lyon, a talented member of the Lyon family, who is also a spectacular singer-songwriter. Jamal Lyon has distaste for politics in the music industry and is ridiculed as the ‘black sheep of the family’ by his father. In 2016, he guest-starred as Josey in the ‘WGN’ American drama series ‘Underground.’ Jussie’s younger sister, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, played the lead role of Rosalee on the show. He also appeared in the ‘Live! With Kelly’ show as a guest host. In 2017, he played Ricks in the sci-fi horror film ‘Alien: Covenant’ which is a sequel to the 2012 movie ‘Prometheus.’ Mollett released his debut album ‘Sum of My Music’ in March 2018. On April 2019, it was said that his character in ‘Empire’ will not appear during the season, although ‘Fox Entertainment’ had extended his contract for the sixth season.

Major Works

His first major performance was in the short-lived sitcom ‘On Our Own.’ After the first season, which consisted of 20 episodes, the show was canceled. The performance of the star cast, including Jussie’s performance, was critically acclaimed. His performance in the 2012 American rom-com movie ‘The Skinny,’ where he played a homosexual medical student, received good reviews. The movie was released in selected theaters and his excellent portrayal of Magnus won the hearts of many. In 2016, ‘Empire’ was placed amongst the top 50 television shows by the ‘New York Times.’

Awards & Achievements

He was first nominated at the ‘Young Artist Awards’ under the category of ‘Outstanding Young Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture’ for ‘The Mighty Ducks’ when he was 11. He was also nominated for ‘Best Actor’ at the ‘BET Awards’ in 1993. He won his first award in 2016 at the ‘NAACP Image Awards.’ That night, he took home multiple awards under the categories of ‘Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration’ and ‘Outstanding New Artist.’ Also, his single ‘You’re So Beautiful’ won the ‘Outstanding Song’ award. In 2017, he won a ‘NAACP Image Award’ under the category of ‘Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series’ for his portrayal of Jamal Lyon in ‘Empire.’

Personal Life & Legacy

He has been an activist since his childhood. When he was ten, he lost one of his co-actors to HIV. As a young boy, he was devastated on learning about the incident and henceforth took initiative to spread awareness about HIV, racism, and homophobia. At the age of 16, he began volunteering at the ‘Black AIDS Institute’ under the mentorship of Phill Wilson. He also worked closely with the ‘New South Africa’ organization and its artists, such as Samuel L. Jackson, Carlos Santana, and LaToya Jackson. While appearing on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show,’ Jussie told Ellen that he is gay and that this wasn’t coming out of the closet for him as he had never hidden the truth. He also said that he is proud of his sexuality. Smollett told police on January 29, 2019, that he was attacked outside his apartment building by two men in ski masks.


Jussie Smollett performed the song ‘I Got a Woman’ in February 2016 at the White House.

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