NEWS: ‘Empire’ Actor Jussie Smollett Returns to Stage for 1st Time Since Reported Attack
By Anthony Rivas and Stephanie Wash, ABC News | Jussie Smollett returned to the stage with a message of love on Saturday night in his first public appearance since he was allegedly attacked in a possible hate crime earlier this week.
Smollett took the stage at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, California, after an introduction from his older brother Joel, who called him “a true artist” and “the epitome of love.”
“Regardless of what anyone else says, I will only stand for love,” Jussie Smollett said, tearing up before beginning his set. “We hope that you all stand with us.”
The performance was initially supposed to include a meet-and-greet for fans who had upgraded their tickets; however, those people will be refunded due to security concerns, according to an email from the vendor, TicketWeb.
“Jussie is so honored to perform for his fans, friends and family on Saturday night. However, please forgive us. For security reasons, we cannot accommodate any meet & greets. Your meet & greet upgrade can either be refunded or donated to the Black AIDS Institute in your name,” said the email provided to ABC News.
The LAPD declined to comment on whether there will be additional police presence around the venue, and it’s unclear if the venue itself beefed up security for the “Empire” star.
Smollett, 36, was expected to perform tracks from his album “Sum of My Music,” which was released last year.
Dozens of detectives have been pursuing new leads and tracking the actor’s movements that morning through video and photos, Chicago Police previously told ABC News.
Police are also hoping to track down and speak to two potential persons of interest who can be seen in surveillance video near the area where the alleged assault took place.
“While the video does not capture an encounter, detectives are taking this development seriously & wish to question individuals as more cameras are being reviewed,” Anthony Guglielmi, chief communications officer for the Chicago Police Department, wrote on Twitter.
Smollett told police that the men also poured “an unknown chemical substance” on him — possibly bleach — and wrapped a rope around his neck, police said. The rope was still around Smollett’s neck when police spoke to him afterward, officials said.
Brandon Z. Moore, Smollett’s music manager, previously told ABC News that he was on the phone with the actor when the alleged attack happened and that he had heard a scuffle, a racial slur and the words “MAGA country,” presumably coming from the attackers.
Police confirmed that they had spoken to Moore and that his account was noted in the police report. Both Moore and Smollett told police they were on the phone with each other at the time of the attack, police added.
However, as of Thursday, police had not yet seen phone records to confirm their accounts and Smollett had declined to hand over his cell phone to detectives. Police say Smollet is being treated as a victim and they have no interest or probable cause to obtain his call records through a search warrant.
As of Saturday morning, there were no further updates on the investigation, Chicago Police told ABC News.
Smollett thanked his fans in a statement on Friday for their support, and said he was recovering both mentally and physically.
“Let me start by saying that I’m OK,” he said in a statement. “My body is strong and my soul is stronger. More importantly I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words.”
He also made an effort to refute any claims made online that his story might have changed.
“I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level,” he said in the statement. “Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.”
ABC News’ Monica Escobedo contributed to this report.