*“Working with Mariah is perfect,” Jussie Smollett said during a media conference ahead of Mariah Carey’s guest starring role on “Empire.” The music icon plays superstar singer Kitty, and her goal is to help PTSD-stricken Jamal Lyon get comfortable with performing again.
“She didn’t have to show the incredible amount of support that she has to me personally, but she has, and I’m very honored to work with her,” said Columbia recording artist Smollett.
He admits that he would love to record music with Carey outside of the show, but until that magical moment happens, simply getting a chance to sing with her “is the biggest thing that I have ever done,” he gushed.
“I grew up in the 90’s and the 2000’s when our main go-to vocalists were Whitney and Mariah. So to be able to sing with one of these greats is just is an honor. It’s been wonderful. And as far as recording music outside the show, I would love to. We just have to talk to Mariah and try to figure it out.”
Smollett has received rave reviews for his portrayal of gay musician Jamal Lyon in the hit Fox drama “Empire,” and he told EUR/Electronic Urban Report that this season has been most rewarding for him to explore as an actor.
“It’s trying in a way that is absolutely emotionally exhausting. Before, it was emotionally exhausting because I felt like I had to dig up so much old stuff, and I had to be honest and I had to be real. But now, I’m doing that but this takes a lot of work. After a scene you feel like you’re about to pass out, but I love it so much as an actor. It’s such an actor’s dream to be able to sing and do all of this wonderful stuff, but also to be able to dig so deep into what this character is going through. This is definitely so far, my favorite arc that I’ve had a chance to play cause I feel like I have to be bold in it.”
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The third season of “Empire” premiered Sept. 21, and last season, Jamal was shot by Freda Gatz (Bre-Z) at the ASA Awards and left in critical condition. This season finds him battling PTSD, and Smollett noted how he had to do “real research” about post traumatic stress disorder and panic attacks. It’s “extra work… and I love it,” he said. “I love exactly where Jamal is.”
On Jamal being gay and his music mogul father Lucious (Terrance Howard) still not being accepting of it, Jussie explained how the one point that he keeps on “trying to drive home” is that, “We don’t all have to see the world in the same way. Lucious has every right to think, and to believe, Jamal being homosexual is wrong. He has every right to believe that,” he said.
“It only becomes wrong when he sh*ts upon Jamal, and Jamal’s basic freedoms. We don’t all have to agree, and it doesn’t make us bad people if we do agree. It only makes it bad if your disagreement and your beliefs then traces over my simple basic freedoms. And that goes for Lucious and Jamal as well.”
Smollett recently guest-starred on the hit series “Underground.” He next co-stars in Ridley Scott’s “Alien: Covenant”; and the biographical drama “Marshall,” in which he portrays renowned poet Langston Hughes.
We asked the actor about his character in the anticipated “Alien: Covenant,” but he jokingly explained how doing so would violate the “phone book” sized agreement he signed.
“What I can say is that he is a member of the Covenant, and it’s awesome working with Ridley Scott and Michael Fassbender, and Carmen Ejogo, and Billy Crudup… Danny McBride.”
Not only is Jussie “very happy with where Jamal is going” this season on “Empire,” his ‘Covenant’ experience serves as another reminder of how “blessed” he is to “be a part of these casts that are cool with each other,” he said.
“Empire” airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on Fox.
Watch the series premiere of “Mariah’s World” Sunday, Dec. 4 at 9 p.m., only on E!
— GMJHD (@GMJHDvideos) September 29, 2016