With Criminal Charges Dropped, Is Jussie Smollett’s Career Permanently Damaged?
Ryan McCormick, Partner at Goldman McCormick Public Relations
Infuriating Chicago’s mayor and police chief, prosecutors abruptly dropped all charges against Jussie Smollett on Tuesday after the “Empire” actor accused of faking a racist, anti-gay attack on himself agreed to let the city keep his $10,000 in bail. But he maintained his innocence and insisted he was attacked. Prosecutors said they still believe Smollett concocted the assault.
Jussie Smollett’s career is over – there will be no comeback.
In the court of public opinion, Smollett is guilty for orchestrating an attack on himself which could have potentially triggered civil unrest. An actor’s marketability and value is largely based on their favorability perception in public.
As of right now, Smollett is not in good graces with the masses. The March 20 episode of “Empire” of was the lowest rated in the series’ history.
If in the near future Smollett were to give a series of “Oscar deserving” performances in any of his roles, could that shift public opinion? No.
If Smollett were to run into a burning building and save children, kittens, and puppies – would that shift public opinion? No. In fact, I would bet that the first public reaction would be that Smollett set the fire himself.
Smollett will always be known for and affiliated with his most recent brush with the law. His brand is toxic.
Also, I imagine that fellow actors and studios would be very hesitant about hiring or working with Smollett at this point. Some may say Smollett is too much of a risk and liability. Why would they feel inclined to take an unnecessary chance?
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