An open letter to Jussie Smollett


The viewpoints expressed
by the author
do not necessarily
reflect the opinions,
viewpoints and official policies
of Reel Chicago and Reel 360

Dear Jussie,

I understand that you sometimes read Reel Chicago. Thanks for that. It’s appreciated. So, if you do read this scrappy daily trade that I have been proud to be a part of for the last four years, I do hope you read this.

Jussie, you dumb ass!

There is no other way to address you if you actually went to the lengths Chicago PD claims you did in order to stage an attack on yourself.

Are you aware that there are 700 unsolved murders in Chicago?

Are you also aware that according to the The Washington Post hate crimes in the nation’s 10 largest cities increased by 12% last year, reaching the highest level in more than a decade?

Are you aware that Chicago – the city that has welcomed you and your Empire cast and crew for the last 5 years – had 561 homicides committed between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2018.

If it is true that you staged this entire attack, that our tiny staff covered as much as we humanly could, diverting our attention from the usual film, advertising and TV stories, you should be ashamed. Reel Chicago always supports our own community and you played us as well as the local and national media.

You took time and resources (20 detectives?!) from ongoing investigations of real crimes.

If you did this all because you weren’t happy with your reported $65K per episode on Empire, then not only are you a dumb ass – you’re an entitled, dumb ass.

Jussie, do you know how many people are living in tents in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and other big cities? Or were you too busy with your rising music career or being a spokesman for MAC Cosmetics to notice?

Do you have any idea how many people make just $65,000 a year and live (barely) from check-to-check?

Guess what? I’m not happy with what I get paid from Reel Chicago and Reel 360.

I hate driving a 2003 Saab.

I’m not happy that I have lived in LA for six years and still don’t have a manager.

I’m especially not thrilled that my wife kicks me when I snore.

My rent is too damn high!


You sir, have trivialized REAL racial attacks on countless victims of color. You have put a question mark over the heads of people who were brutalized because of their sexual orientation.

Why? Why? Why?

If you think of yourself as some sort of self-made civil rights fighter, you aren’t.

How dare you call yourself the “gay Tupac.”

I wish Tupac would come back from the grave and slap some sense into your privileged ass, while the ghost of Dr. King held your arms behind your back.

You really put a noose around your neck, brother? Do you have any idea how many Black men and women have had nooses forced upon them? MAGA supporters screamed at you? Bleach? LGBT and racial slurs? You really went for the “All You Can Hate Buffet,” didn’t you?

You played us after we supported and defended you because we will always support the Chicago community. If you say you were attacked we will stand unflinchingly by you.

Jussie, there are people out there who are actually trying to make peace and progress and you took a giant dump on them.

If you really are guilty, like Don Lemon said, “Admit it and throw yourself on the mercy of the court.”

I will not cover another “hate crime” story about you. I will not indulge you. I have turned my back on you.

The Chicago film and TV community is a hard-working honest bunch. They support creators without asking for something in return. They help because they want to help. Selflessness. It’s what sets the city apart from Hollywood and New York.

You, in turn, acted from a place of selfishness.

For your own self-gain, you poured gasoline on a continually burning fire of race issues in America.

If all of this is true, then the only hate crime committed here is what you did to your cast, crew, network, supporters, the Chicago Production community and those who stood by you.

Dumb ass.

Colin Costello writes for film, TV, advertising and of course, Reel Chicago and Reel 360. Email Colin Costello at or follow him on Twitter @colincostello10.