Jussie Smollett Is Happy to Start a Conversation About Sexual Fluidity on Empire

Empire has never shied away from controversial plot twists. That’s kind of its thing, you know?

So when Jussie Smollett found out that his out and proud gay character, Jamal Lyon, would have a tryst with a woman (played by Alicia Keys), he was actually really excited about it.

“The first thing I said was that’s awesome! That’s amazing—because I love that I get to play a character that’s so layered,” Smollett tells E! News ahead of the show’s midseason premiere (after a looong four-month wait).

Of course, he knew that the gay fans of the show might not be quite as happy, and he raised the issue with Empire creator Lee Daniels. “I also said to Lee, my gay people! My gay people are going to be mad! I knew that there were going to be some people that felt somehow that [this story] challenged the idea that you are not born this way and that you actually have a choice in the matter, but that was a conversation that I didn’t mind having and I didn’t mind opening up,” he explains.

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He continues, “We’re still having that conversation, and in this second part of season two we do really tap in on the idea of sexual fluidity.”

While Smollett can’t give too much away, there will be some repercussions for Jamal—especially once more people find out about the hookup with Skye. “There’s a slight fallout because the public finds out what happened, and that’s an interesting turn of events,” he says, adding, “There’s something to be said about when you’re held up to be the one and…you go outside the box that they wanted to put you in. It’s hard when people find that out. That’s what’s happening with Jamal.”

Press play on the video above for more of Smollett’s musings about Jamal’s sexuality and the importance of having those conversations.

Empire airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on Fox.

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