Jussie Smollett ‘staged’ the homophobic and racist attack because he was not happy with his “Empire” salary, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said. On February 21, Johnson announced that Smollett had been arrested and charged with one count of disorderly conduct for making a false police report. In the wake of his arrest, the Huffington Post, citing a source, reported that Smollett was earning $65,000 per episode. Season five of “Empire” is scheduled for 18 episodes, meaning that he would earn over $1 million for 2018/19.
In October 2016, it was reported that Smollett earned $20,000 per episode. The same report said the show’s stars, Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, were paid $175,000 per episode. Smollett’s salary was in line with Howard and Henson’s other on-screen children, Trai Byers and Bryshere Y. Gray.
It had earlier been widely reported that the attack had been staged because Smollett was about to be written off of “Empire.” Those reports were rebuked by the writers of “Empire.”
If convicted, Smollett could face up to three years in prison as well as seeing Smollett being forced to pay for the cost of the investigation. Cook County District Attorney Kim Foxx has recused herself in the case citing familiarity with potential witnesses in the case. Smollett is being represented by a legal team including Todd Pugh, Victor Henderson and Mark Geragos.