Taraji P. Henson, Jussie Smollett Talk Empire at Summer Sizzle Launch Party

Taraji P. Henson, Jussie Smollett Talk Empire at Summer Sizzle Launch Party

The breakout star on homophobia in the Black community and more.

Published April 10, 2015

Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett consistently keep things sizzling on Empire, and this year they decided to lend some of that heat as hosts of the Summer Sizzle BVI Launch Party at New York's Ricco Maresca Gallery in anticipation of the four day luxury lifestyle and fashion event, which will take place from July 23-27 in the British Virgin Islands. Created by Terry Donovan (seen above) in 2007, Summer Sizzle BVI is a must-attend summer getaway, click here for more information.

We caught up with Henson and Smollett at the event to talk about that island life and also — of course — their hit series, Empire. Smollett, the show's breakout star, had a lot to say about the reaction of the Black LGBT community to his character. 

"Homophobia is a human epidemic," he says. "It does annoy me when people stay on the whole thing about homophobia in the Black community, because I don't feel like we deserve all of that."

He continues, "But it's all good, I believe there's a conversation being had that would not be had if Jamal did not exist."

Watch our exclusive video below to see more of our talk with Smollett, and Ms. Henson, who is preparing to pour her experiences in Hollywood into her very first memoir. And click here to hear the Empire stars share their thoughts on the recent death of Walter Scott, who was shot eight times and killed by police in South Carolina.

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(Photo: Patrick Neree)

Written by Evelyn Diaz

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