Openly gay actor, Jussie Smollett, best known for his role in Empire has spoken out about the crackdown by some African nations on TV shows featuring LGBTI characters.
The 35-year-old actor, singer, and photographer travelled to South Africa recently to shoot a music video and promote the fourth season of Empire.
Speaking in an interview with Channel24, Smollett was asked about his thoughts on sensors in a number of African nations which forced MultiChoice’s DSTV to drop programmes because they include gay or transgender characters or themes.
“Here’s the thing,” Smollett says, “Art is supposed to reflect the times. Artists and their art are supposed to reflect the world that we live in.”
Smollett added, “So, at the end of the day you can’t have something on TV that is only reflecting one point of view that is not even true but the point of view that someone wants to get out there. That is propaganda.”
“I don’t fully know enough about all that to get deeply into it, but what I do know is that art is here to change lives. Art should have the freedom to do so. That is why you have the freedom to turn off the TV channel. It’s as simple as that.”
Smollett’s comments follow Kenya’s censors ordered MultiChoice to ban the gay-affirming teen show, Andi Mack, because it was a “deliberate glorification of homosexuality.”
Additionally, in June 2017, MultiChoice was ordered by the same sensors to block six series on the Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network channels for “promoting the deviant LGBT agenda.”
The company has since also buckled to similar demands from Nigerian censors in the past, by failing to air shows such as the two award-winning transgender reality series I Am Cait and I Am Jazz.
Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon, the gay son of entertainment giant Lucious in Empire, came out to the public in March 2015 on the Ellen DeGeneres show.
“There’s never been a closet that I’ve been in. I don’t own a closet, I own a dresser,” he stated at the time.
In a 2016 interview with Out Magazine, Smollett put a halt to any rumours and questions, confirming “If I had to label myself, I would label myself as a gay man.”