Jussie Smollett took the stage Saturday night in his first performance since he was brutally attacked earlier this week in Chicago.
The Empire star performed to a sold-out show at Los Angeles’ Troubadour, using the opportunity to share a message of resilience with his fans.
“I’m not fully healed yet, but I’m going to, and I’m going to stand strong with you all,” he told the crowd.
He also clarified specific details about the attack, including the facts that he had suffered bruises, not any cracked ribs; that he had gone to a doctor promptly; that he was not hospitalized; and that his doctors in LA and Chicago had said he could perform.
“And above all, I fought the f*** back,” he added.
Smollett was grabbing a quick bite from a local Subway Tuesday morning when he was attacked by two men wearing “Make America Great Again” hats. The thugs beat him, poured an “unknown chemical substance” on him, and tied a noose around his neck while calling him racist and homophobic slurs.
Smollett is now set to have 24/7 armed security at least until the two men who attacked him Tuesday morning are apprehended. He had to cancel the scheduled meet-and-greet with fans in L.A. on Saturday due to security concerns.
“For security reasons, we cannot accommodate any meet & greets,” the email to ticketholders said.
The FBI and Chicago Police Department are investigating the attack as a possible hate crime. Investigators have located a surveillance camera that shows people who are now wanted for questioning, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement on Twitter.
Smollett exclusively told ESSENCE that he’s recovering, but that he’s thankful for the mass outpouring of support he’s received over the last few days.
“Let me start by saying that I’m OK,” Smollett began in his statement to ESSENCE. “My body is strong but my soul is stronger. More importantly, I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words. “