Jussie Smollett is having a moment. The actor is one of the stars on FOX’s mega-smash Empire, and the songs he’s performed on the show are chart toppers. Even though his role as Jamal Lyon may be considered Jussie’s breakthrough role, he’s actually been acting since childhood; appearing projects including 1992’s The Mighty Ducks and recent parts on Revenge and The Mindy Project. The actor comes from a family of talented actors and even starred in a short-lived ABC sitcom On Our Own with his siblings: Jake, Jocqui, Jojo, Jazz and Jurnee (who also had supporting roles on Full House, Friday Night Lights and True Blood.) As he answered our 5 Questions, Smollett says that he’s appreciative of all of the love he and his character are receiving, especially on social media.
1. When did you know that Empire was more than a TV show and had become a cultural phenomenon?
We’re so in our bubble, out little Empire bubble, our Empire Entertainment bubble. We’re in Chicago filming this show, so we don’t get to see how big it is. But when I heard that the song I performed in the Empire pilot, “Good Enough” was #2 on the Billboard charts. I was blown away. It’s ridiculous; it’s a blessing.
2. Tell us about a time when you were starstruck.
I was in an interview today and Jennifer Lopez walked by and oh my gosh, I was so country. I was in the middle of an interview, on camera, and I was like “OMG it’s JLO!” I was like, “Wait, wait, wait….” I wasn’t trying to be cute, I wasn’t trying to play, I was dead-ass serious. I was like, “That’s JLO, baby! That’s JLO!” I started yelling at her, “Hey…JLO!” and she looked over and was like “Hi.”
3. With the sudden success of Empire, what has been your strangest fan encounter?
Yesterday, before I went to work, I went to Whole Foods to go buy some vitamin C — I love orange, chewable Vitamin C — I literally got mobbed at the Whole Foods in Chicago, and I’m like, “what just happened to my life?” I have no idea just happened to my life, it’s changed — (snaps fingers) — like that.
4. What are three things you have to have in your fridge or pantry?
Orange Juice, usually some form of salmon or tilapia, and always apples or peaches. Hold it — Twizzlers. I keep my Twizzlers in my fridge so that they’re cold. I love Twizzlers. (Channel Guide: Not Red Vines?) No. NO!! My older sister loves Red Vines, She’s team Red Vine and I’m team Twizzlers. But I keep them in my refrigerator to keep ’em nice and firm.
5. If your TV had only three shows or networks, what would they be?
Empire, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder.
Empire > FOX > Wednesdays at 9pm ET/PT