Jussie Smollett’s “Empire” co-star Taraji P. Henson is speaking out for the first time since prosecutors dropped all of the charges against the actor on Tuesday in an alleged hate crime hoax.
"I'm happy that the truth has finally been set free, because I knew it all along," Henson told USA Today following news of the stunning reversal by the Cook County State Attorney’s Office. "We're all happy for him, and thank God the truth prevailed."
Henson, who plays the mother of Smollett’s character on the hit series "Empire," said she never harbored any doubt Smollett was innocent due to his “immaculate track record” and his giving nature.
“I know him and I know his track record," she said. "I'm not going to jump on clickbait just because someone says something derogatory about a person I know and love. I'm not easily swayed like that. Those little clickbait [reports] weren't enough to deter me from his immaculate track record. I know the type of activism this young man does in his community, I know that he's a giver – he's not an attention-seeker.”
She continued: "When I know someone, there's nothing you can say to make me flip on them, and that's what we miss in this world. We need people that stand by us. Whatever happened to that? Why are we so easy to believe strangers over people we know?"
Smollett’s co-star Ta'Rhonda Jones also spoke out following the news, telling Fox News: "We've always been in great spirits you know... what happens in the family stays in the family so I'm not at liberty to discuss family business."
When news broke that Smollett would not be prosecuted by the Cook County State Attorney's Office for allegedly faking a hate crime in late January, celebrities were among the first to react.
A judge Tuesday granted a nolle pros, which essentially means the case has been dropped and that the actor will no longer be prosecuted for the alleged charges. It's unclear at this time why the court decided not to proceed with the prosecution.
Smollett, who is openly gay, claimed on January 29 he was attacked by two men who yelled anti-gay and racial slurs and poured bleach on him, among other allegations at the time. But the case took a turn after police said new information "shifted" their investigation. Eventually, the actor pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of disorderly conduct in relation to the incident.
Read on for a look at how celebrities are responding to the news.
In a now-deleted tweet, "Scrubs" actor Donald Faison initially said "wow" in response to the dropped charges. He later tweeted a "mind-blown" emoji.
"Well.. well," comedian Loni Love tweeted following the news.
Actress Marsha Warfield also commented on the dropped charges.
"Turns out nobody does anything, "West Wing" actor Joshua Malina said on Twitter shortly after the news broke. "Maybe the Loughlin kids do row crew," he added in a second tweet, referring to the "Full House" star's alleged role in the national college admissions scandal.
"I'll just put this right here," film director Ava DuVernay said on Twitter following the news, re-sharing a tweet from Feb. 17 in which she showed support for the actor.
"Despite the inconsistencies, I can’t blindly believe Chicago PD. The department that covered up shooting Laquan McDonald over a dozen times? That operated an off-site torture facility? That one? I’ll wait. Whatever the outcome, this won’t stop me from believing others. It can’t," she wrote at the time.
Similarly, Brittany Packnett — who, among other roles, is the co-founder of Campaign Zero, a police-reform campaign — also shared a dated tweet.
"Reposting without comment," she wrote alongside a tweet from February.
"We still don’t know exactly what happened to Jussie... But I already told y’all I don’t take the CPD at their word just because they said so. They did a lot of talking but ain’t show us anything conclusive," she wrote, in part, at the time.
Actor James Woods also responded to the news.
Fox News' Tyler McCarthy, Ashley Dvorkin, and Jennifer Earl contributed to this report.