It’s finally getting cold in New York City. So, last weekend I was blessed to be in sunny California as a guest of “Afternoon of Luxury” pool party at the Viceroy Hotel, where Empire‘s Jussie Smollett put on a great performance.
The pool party was hosted by Miss Diddy, with sounds by DJ B-Hen and also included a fashion show curated by the GLAM Agency, featuring Okera Banks and the Walter Collection.
I caught up with Jussie after he performed his hits “You’re So Beautiful,” “No Doubt About It” and “Heavy” to find out how he’s dealing with his newfound fame.
I was talking to your sister Jurnee about you being the most famous Smollett now. Is the fame everything you expected it to be?
Jurnee is still the greatest actor in the family so it really don’t matter. It’s been amazing man, there are elements to it that are draw backs but GOD! Think about the drawbacks I had before I had this. Those drawbacks were much more stressful. Not knowing how you’re going to pay your bills is much more stressful than people up in your face with cameras.
You have this great character that people love, but it’s surely blurring the line of who you are in real life, leaving the fans wanting to know everything about you, the person. Does the personal attention piss you off?
It doesn’t piss me off, it annoys me. Still with that annoyance, again, I understand it. I never had it. I’m not used to that whole world of people jumping out of bushes. I’m just not used to it, that’s brand new to me. That piece has only recently started. I can’t even hang out with the homie without them thinking that it’s something else. But it is what it is. I understand that with the success that I have right now people are interested in who I am behind the scenes. So, I can’t be mad at that because it also helps me. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them all and then you have the facts of life.
Jumping out the bushes though?
Yeah. I was running down the streets and TMZ literally jumped out of the bushes of this parking lot and I was like, what is this? I’m used to the norm. They’ll come to like the airport, they’ll come around if I’m at a nice restaurant with Lee or Taraji. Sure they’ll come but they jumped out of a bush and I was by myself just taking a run. They started asking me questions about my dating life. About 50 and all that. Again that’s their job and my job is to protect myself so that’s what it is.
I talked to Terrence about Empire before the show came out. He had such good words for you guys and said he was scared because you’re coming for his spot. After nearly taking his spot, how is your relationship with him now?
He is like the best, most intelligent uncle you can ask for. I keep saying this but I’d love to ask Al Pacino what it was, because in my imagination I feel like it’s like what it was for someone like him to work with Marlon Brando on the Godfather. That slightly misunderstood, passionate good guy. Who is bettering himself and in turn helping other people better themselves too. So, I got nothing but love for Terrence. He’s such a grade-A good dude.
How did Lincoln reach out to you for the “Afternoon of Luxury” event here in Santa Monica?
Lincoln is the car that Jamal drives. So they reached out to me and I’m always looking for an excuse to come back home to LA. It’s snowing right now in Chicago. So, I flew the hell out of there and came here, so I’m happy.
I know that you drove the new Lincoln MKZ around Santa Monica, so I’m curious: what’s your favorite memory from one of your family car trips?
We’ve done the back and forth between California and New York 13 different times. My mom when she knew we were going to move she used to take the time to record Martin and I Love Lucy on VHS. Then she would take a tiny portable TV with a VCR and she would plug it into the lighter and we would watch TV while she was driving. So, it was all about Martin and I Love Lucy. Those were the best times to me. Also listening to Bonnie Raitt and BeBe and CeCe Winans music the rest of the way there.
PHOTO CREDIT: Lincoln Motor Company