Empire co-creator and executive producer Lee Daniels revealed Sunday at the 2015 Produced By Conference in Los Angeles that he and Jussie Smollett, who plays the gay character Jamal, have received violent threats from some of the show’s audience.
“I have to relate to these people honestly,” Daniels said of the show’s diverse audience, “that trash can scene? It happened.”
He’s referring to a flashback scene in which a young Jamal is put into a trash can by his father, a furious Lucious Lyon (played by Terrence Howard), after Lucious discovers Jamal dressing up in his mother’s clothing and strutting around the house.
“Homophobia is real. It exists… Jussie and I both get death threats. But we will continue to do our thing,” Daniels told attendees on the Paramount Pictures lot.
Empire returns to Fox for a second, 18-episode season on Sept. 23.