Jussie Smollett's BET Awards Appearance Sparks Concerns From Viewers

Social media users had a strong reaction to controversial actor Jussie Smollett's return to public life after his appearance on the BET Awards red carpet over the weekend.

On Sunday evening, Black Entertainment Television (BET) held its annual BET Awards ceremony. Smollett, who was convicted in 2021 of paying two men to stage a homophobic and racist attack on him in 2019, made a surprise appearance at the awards show and used his time on the red carpet to promote B-Boy Blues, a BET+ movie Smollett directed.

Smollett's return to the public eye was not universally welcomed, as seen through reactions on social media posted after his appearance.

One person, identified on Twitter as Brandon, posted that he could not believe how the controversial actor could show up at the ceremony given his well-publicized legal troubles.

"That's crazy how Jussie Smollett is out & about, showing his face like that situation never happened," he wrote on Twitter.

Another person, posting under the name Drake Moseley, was also dismayed at Smollet's appearance Sunday evening.

"We are way too forgiving as a people. We really let Jussie Smollett chill like this? At the BET awards?! This should be a place of black excellence, not IG models, rapper baby mamas, and race-baiting liars," the tweet read.

The account Mr. Sneaker Head used a meme of Beyonce and Jay-Z both with pained expressions to help illustrate their point. The caption to the photo posted on Twitter read: "Everyone watching Jussie Smollett on the red carpet."

Another person posted that if she were in Smollett's position, she would avoid public appearances.

"Jussie Smollett is at the BET Awards? He brave's lmao I'd never show my face again if I was him," she wrote on Twitter.

While some on social media criticized Smollet's appearance Sunday, others took very different positions on the matter.

"Ya'll see abusers, sex offenders, convicted felons and addiects (sic) walk BET red carpet every year and say nothing. So, I don't know why ya'll getting worked up seeing Jussie Smollett," YIKESTROY3 posted on Twitter.

Another person, posting under the name reuxmal, had a very similar take on Smollet at the BET Awards.

"It's silly how ppl are outraged about Jussie Smollett being at the BET Awards. Like he's supposed to wither away into obscurity bcz of the weirdos salivating over his downfall," the user wrote.

In one interview on the red carpet, Smollett stated he "made the commitment to himself to go to where the love is." The actor also mentioned he has plans to go behind the camera again and direct his second film, a holiday-themed flick.

Newsweek has reached out to Smollett for comment.

Jussie Smollett at BET Awards
Social media had strong reactions to Jussie Smollett's appearance at the BET Awards Sunday evening. Pictured, Smollett on the red carpet at the BET Awards on Sunday, June 26, 2022 in Los Angeles. Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET