“He’s an important and so talented member of the Fox family and our heart goes out to him,” Collier said during his executive session at the Television Critics Association winter press tour.
Collier said he could not comment in detail due to the ongoing criminal investigation, but did say, “It’s been really gratifying to see the creative community rally around him.”
Later in Fox’s TCA day “Empire” executive producer Brett Mahoney pointed out that Smollett is a “proud gay black man” and he didn’t know if “the cowards who attacked him were trying to beat the black, the gay or the [pride] out of him, but that’s impossible, because he’s strong.”
“Empire” executive producer Danny Strong added that he has not been surprised by the “class and poise” of Smollett’s response to the attack against him and he noted that Smollett performing just days after the attack spoke volumes about who he is.
According to a statement released by the Chicago Police Department, Smollett was beaten by two men who approached him by yelling out “racial and homophobic slurs” at approximately 2 a.m. on Jan. 29 in the 300 block of E. North Water St. They proceeded to assault Smollett and “poured an unknown chemical substance” on him.
The two men are also said to have put a rope around Smollett’s neck before fleeing on foot. Smollett then transported himself to an area hospital.
In an interview with Variety, Smollett’s music manager, who was on the phone with Smollett at the time the attack occurred, confirmed earlier reports that the two assailants had shouted, “This is MAGA country” at Smollett during the assault.
“I heard that clearly. I heard the scuffle and I heard the racial slur,” he said.
The Chicago PD has since released photographs of two persons of interest in the case and are asking the public for their help in identifying them.