Sean Hayes — Photo: GLAAD / YouTube
Sean Hayes waded into the Jussie Smollett drama by dragging the Empire actor in a joke during an acceptance speech at the 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards.
The Will & Grace star accepted the the Stephen F. Kolzak Award during Thursday’s award ceremony in Los Angeles, given to those who make “a significant difference in promoting LGBTQ acceptance.
Hayes began his speech by noting that was the last of the four main cast members to be awarded by GLAAD, joking, “[I’m] the last one — the gay one.”
He then tackled the recent drama surrounding Smollett, after all charges were dropped against the actor for allegedly staging an anti-gay attack against himself in January.
Hayes said: “I’ve been getting in shape for tonight with the Jussie Smollett workout. You hire two trainers and sweat for eight weeks. It wipes out all your belly fat and credibility.”
Chicago’s Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office left many stunned after prosecutors opted to drop 16 counts of disorderly conduct against Smollett during a court appearance on Tuesday.
“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” the office said in a statement.
Speaking outside the court following the hearing, Smollett reiterated his innocence and thanked those who stood by him.
“I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one,” he said, adding, “I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I’ve been accused of.”
Smollett said it has been “an incredibly difficult time…one of the worst of my entire life,” adding that he is a man of faith and I am a man that has knowledge of my history and I would not bring my family, our lives or the movement through a fire like this. I just wouldn’t.”
“Now I’d like nothing more than to get back to work and move on with my life,” he continued. “But make no mistakes, I will always continue to fight for the justice, equality and betterment of marginalized people everywhere. So again thank you for all the support. Thank you for faith and thank you to God. Bless you. Thank you very much.”
Smollett was suspended from Fox drama Empire in February, with producers calling the allegations against him “very disturbing.” They confirmed that his character on the show, Jamal, won’t appear in the last two episodes of season five.
At the time of his arrest in February, Chicago police accused Smollett of staging the attack because he was unhappy with his Empire salary.
Smollett, who is black and openly gay, claimed he was attacked in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood by two masked men, one of whom was wearing a red hat, during the early morning hours of Jan. 29 while talking on the phone with his manager.
Smollett said the men shouted racist and homophobic slurs at him, beat him, put a noose around his neck, and poured a chemical believed to be bleach on him.
Smollett’s manager, Brandon Moore, claimed that he heard the attackers calling Smollett “Empire faggot [racial expletive]” and shouting, “This is MAGA country!”
Police initially said they were investigating the attack as a possible hate crime, before the investigation shifted to focus on Smollett himself.