Jussie went public about living as "a proud gay man" on Ellen DeGeneres' talk show and the world didn't stop. "The sun rose the next day, the clouds were out and I was still able to go to Whole Foods, you know? And My mother said, 'Hey, Baby,' like she aways does. Nothing changed."

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ESSENCE Fest turns 21 this year, so we decided to grill the Empire star on how he brought in his 21st year

Taylor Lewis
Jul, 04, 2015

For some, turning 21 means a night on the town, but for Jussie Smollett, it meant a train trip through Europe with his mama.

In honor of ESSENCE Fest's 21st anniversary, we chatted with Smollett to hear all about how the Empire star rang in his 21st year, and we must say that we're jealous!

Eleven years ago—before Empire, before the A-list status—Smollett was simply a self-proclaimed struggling artist living in Europe, hoping to catch his big break. His time in Europe coincided with his 21st birthday, and his mom sent him the ultimate gift—herself.

"She had never been to Europe before, and she got on a plane for all those hours and came," he told ESSENCE.

Awwwww!

Smollett said that the two traveled from Switzerland—where he was at the time—to Paris via train, but he insists that the journey was the furthest thing from "bougie."

"It sounds very bougie, but it was not bougie!" he said. "It was very raggedy. I was living high on the hog of nothing at that time." 

Either way, their mother-son trip sounds magical (and uber-adorable).