Empire star: My coming out was a bigger deal to everyone else

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Empire star Jussie Smollett has reacted to a wave of support, after he came out this week.

The 31-year-old actor plays Jamal Lyon, the gay son of a hip-hop artist on the Fox drama series Empire.

However, despite playing a gay character on screen, he had never discussed his own sexuality until this week, when he had a heart-to-heart with Ellen DeGeneres.

He told her: “When I say that I don’t talk about my personal life, it is in no way to hide or deny who God made me.

“My mama knows. My mama likes me a lot. I take her to the Sound of Music sing-along every single year.”

Speaking to Variety, he said: “It was a bigger deal to everyone than it was for me, but at the same time I do understand why it is something to talk about.”

“I didn’t talk to Ellen so that people could, be like ‘oh my God, let’s see what Jussie does in his bedroom in his private life’.

“I did talk to her so that people understood that they’re not alone. That’s all.”

He added of his character on Empire: “You don’t always get these experiences as an artist of [playing] roles where you feel the impact of what you’re doing, but I do.

“And that as an artist, as an activist, as a man, it’s feeding my soul.”

Watch the clip below: