Chris Rock had some fun at Jussie Smollett’s expense.
During the 50th annual NAACP Image Awards Saturday night, the comedian took shots at the “Empire” star, who had all criminal charges against him dropped last week for allegedly staging a hate crime.
“They said no Jussie Smollett jokes,” said Rock while presenting the award for Outstanding Comedy Series. “Yeah, I know… What a waste of light skin. You know what I could do with that light skin? That curly hair, my career would be out of here! I would be f**kin’ running Hollywood.”
The joke was met with laughs from the crowd including Issa Rae and Trevor Noah. “What the hell was he thinking? You are ‘Jessie’ from now on,” added Rock. “You don’t even get the ‘u’ no more. That ‘u’ was respect. You are getting no respect from me.”
But not everyone was laughing. “I stand with Jussie,” said Yara Shahidi, while helping the Outstanding Comedy award alongside her “Black-ish” castmates including Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross.
Smollett was not in attendance at Saturday’s show and lost his award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series to “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Jessie Williams. The “Empire” star previously won in that category in 2017 and has attended the last three NAACP Image Awards.
Last week, Chicago prosecutors dropped all charges against Smollett after he was indicted on 16 felony counts for allegedly filing a false police report. He has maintained his innocence and says that he’s been “truthful and consistent on every single level since day one.” The city of Chicago is seeking $130,000 from Smollett to cover the costs of the investigation.