Chris Rock laid into Jussie Smollett with a series of jokes at the NAACP Image Awards on Saturday (March 30).
The comedian, who was presenting at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People awards ceremony in which Smollett was nominated for his role in Empire, took aim at the star following an investigation that he staged a hoax hate-crime attack.
“They said no Jussie Smollett jokes,” Rock said. “I know. What a waste of light skin, you know? You know what I could do with that light skin? That curly hair? My career would be outta here…running Hollywood.
He continued: “What the hell was he thinking? From now on I ain’t never gonna (say) no Jussie – you’re a Jessie from now on. You don’t get the ‘u’ no more. That ‘u’ was respect. You don’t get no respect from me.”
The comedian’s jokes greatly amused The Daily Show host Trevor Noah but Black-ish actress Yara Shahidi, who accepted an award for the programme, told the audience: “I stand with Jussie.”
All criminal charges against Smollett were dropped by prosecutors earlier this month.
The 36-year-old pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of disorderly conduct at a hearing, which followed his arrest in February for filing a false police report. Smollett had been accused of lying to police about an alleged racist and homophobic attack that he said he was the victim of on January 29.