Jussie Smollett to Make Directorial Debut with B-Boy Blues amid Legal Woes Over Alleged 2019 Attack
Jussie Smollett is getting behind the camera for his feature directorial debut.
The former Empire star is set to direct B-Boy Blues, a movie adaption of James Earl Hardy's best-selling 1994 of the same name, Deadline reports.
The actor will also be producing the film through his recently launched SuperMassive Movies along with Hardy and others.
B-Boy Blues follows the complicated relationship between Mitchell Crawford, a 27-year-old journalist, and Raheim Rivers, a 21-year-old bike messenger and banjee boy, otherwise known as a B-boy. The pair fall in love after meeting in a gay bar in Greenwich Village in the summer of 1993 but are soon faced with a world of homophobia and violence.
Hardy's B-Boy was the first in the series of five additional books that remained a pivotal piece of literature for the LGBTQ+ community.
The film is scheduled to begin production in New York City on Oct. 17.
This isn't Smollett's first experience with directing — he previously directed two episodes of Empire as well as several music videos.
News of the film comes as the 38-year-old continues to battle legal challenges stemming from his alleged 2019 attack.
Smollett, an openly gay Black actor, was originally indicted in March 2019 with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report claiming two men attacked him on Jan. 29, 2019, while spewing racist and homophobic slurs.
He pleaded not guilty to allegations that he lied to police about the incident, which authorities later claimed he had staged with two acquaintances to draw attention to himself. Later that same month, the charges against Smollett were dropped by the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
Last month, the actor appeared in an Instagram Live conversation with author and activist Marc Lamont Hill, during which he opened up about his ongoing trial. Smollett said the situation has been "frustrating, to say the least," when he joined about 40 minutes into Hill's hour-long livestream.
"It's been beyond frustrating, and I certainly am not going rogue," he said about publicly commenting on the case. "I'm still taking the advice of my attorneys and everything like that, but I don't really see, honestly, what staying quiet has really done, like, where it has gotten me. ... It's so much bigger than me."
Most recently, in February, Smollett pleaded not guilty to a six-count indictment which revived the disorderly conduct allegations previously filed and then dropped in the case. Smollett has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
After the initial charges were dropped in March 2019, Smollett told reporters, “I’ve been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one.” Smollett added, “I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of doing what I was accused of.”
The Smollett family also released a statement at the time, calling Jussie an “innocent man whose name and character has been unjustly smeared” by “painful incidents” throughout the case.
“Jussie is a son, a brother, a partner, a champion for human rights, and a genuine soul who would never be capable of what he was falsely accused of,” the family said. “He was the victim of an assault and then falsely blamed for his own attack. … Truth has prevailed and he has been vindicated.”