Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
The Schmooze

Jewish ‘Empire’ Star Ditches Oscars for #JusticeForFlint

We already know everything about the Jewish stars at the Oscars, but one inspiring Jewish star is ditching the Academy Awards this years and spending the night in Flint, Michigan.

Jussie Smolett of smash-hit TV show “Empire,” will be joining “Creed” director Ryan Coogler, Ava DuVernay (“Selma”), Janelle Monae and many other artists in Flint, Michigan for “Justice For Flint,” a free event designed to raise money and awareness for the town’s water crisis.

The event will be hosted by comedian Hannibal Buress and live-streamed on It will air at the same time as the 88th Academy Awards, where, for the second year in a row, no black actors are nominated.

Jussie Smollett is one of the more impressive and inspiring modern Jewish TV stars. The talented actor has been gracing our movie and TV screens since the early 90s but his real, colossal break-out was starring in the mega smash-hit “Empire,” a record breaking musical drama.

In the show, Smollett plays the gay son of the heads of “Empire Entertainment,” Luscious (Terrence Howard) and Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) Lyons. As musician Jamal Lyons, he is responsible for some of the show’s most catchy tunes.

But Smollett, the son of a Jewish father and African-American mother, is also an activist. He often shares politically charged posts on his widely followed social media accounts, and participates in different social justice campaigns and charities.

Know your history. #IndigenousPeoplesDay #AbolishColumbusDay

A photo posted by Jussie Smollett (@jussiesmollett) on

This Sunday night won’t be Smollett’s first time in Flint. He visited there last month and shared his love and support for the town on Instagram:

When I see the image of these babies from #Flint by @waynelawrence, I see the past, present AND future. It reminds me of the legendary images by #GordonParks. The power and strength of those images connected with the pain that we are presently dealing with many of the same issues as yesterday…today. Most importantly tho, these kids represent the future. In my heart, either one of them could end up as President of the United States one day. So instead of posting a pic of some dude with a white wig, who owned slaves as the representative of what our country started as… Because of the inspiration of people like @barackobama, I’d like to post this in celebration of what this country can and will be. May the young lead us in a way we never thought imaginable. Salute. #PresidentsDay #BeInspired #GoingBackToFlint #Repost @waynelawrence ・・・ Siblings Julie, Antonio, and India Abram collect their daily allowance of bottled water from Fire Station #3. Located on Martin Luther King Avenue, it is one of five firehouses that have become water resource sites in Flint, Michigan. The link to some portraits I made for @natgeo, along with personal accounts from persons surviving the water crisis in Flint, Michigan is now live. #stateofemergency #flintwatercrisis #michigan #injustice #corruption #americanhistory

A photo posted by Jussie Smollett (@jussiesmollett) on

Earlier this week, Smollett serenaded the Obama’s as part of a tribute to singer Ray Charles.

In 2014, Smollett shared this picture of him lighting the Menorah with the hashtag “#Blewish” (Black and Jewish).

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.