You swoon over Jussie Smollett every week during Empire, off hours, and pretty much around the clock. Jussie’s talent on the Fox hit has already scored him a record deal and at age 32, many are deeming him as a gay icon after coming out on Ellen in March. These incredible accomplishments shouldn’t go unnoticed, but there’s much more about the vibrant actor we have yet to learn. Even researching for this article, 99.9% of headlines included “coming out,” “sexuality” and “Empire spoilers.”
So, I did a little digging. Who is Jussie outside of the headlines? We don’t know everything, but here’s a start.
He was in 1992’s The Mighty Ducks.Disney/BuzzFeed
Yup, he played Terry Hall at age 9 and was already an icon in the making.
He and his five siblings had an ABC show On Our Own in 1994.ABC
Jussie is the middle child of all his his siblings, who are talented as hell, and he assures that there is no sibling rivarly. “It’s just not how we roll,” he says.
He joins Drake in the sexy, half-Jew club.Getty
You may have seen him on The Mindy Project and Revenge.Fox
Did you catch that?
Before making it big, he was a clown for kids’ parties.Getty
He was also a waiter, worked at Macy’s, was a publicist, and a bartender at The Lion King on Broadway. And if you were wondering, he says he was “an entertaining clown, [but] not a good clown.” He personalized songs for kids’ names and blew up balloons, but still claims he sucked.
His greatest musical influence is Michael Jackson.Getty
Jussie says MJ is the “prototype of what an entertainer is” and “[y]ou feel the joy he had when he was performing.”
He realized he was famous at a shopping center.Getty
This past March, he told Vanity Fair he knew he was famous after a trip to The Grove. “It literally was a mob scene,” he said. “It was unbelievable that people recognized me. It was kind of crazy, but everyone who has come up has been really sweet. That feels hella good!”
He will happily wine and dine your ass.Getty
He also told VF he’s a secret, badass chef. “You can always come to my house and I will cook for you,” he said. “Darling, there’s nothing I cannot make. I make the best macaroni and cheese that you will ever have in your life and I make a mean gumbo. It’s mean!” This excites us.