The season finale of hit TV series Empire finds main character businessman Vernon Turner dead, taking actor Malik Yoba out for the second Season.
In an interview with TMZ, Yoba says that he got the news of being let go from Empire co-creator Lee Daniels. The phone call reached Yoba while he was doing charity work and promoting the TV series in Ferguson, Missouri.
“Lee told me that someone in Fox decided that ‘someone’ needed to die in the season finale,” said Yoba. “But it wasn’t about the work, it wasn’t about work ethics,” he added.
The decision to eliminate the character Vernon Turner is apparently made to shake up plot lines for the next season.
— watchLOUD (@watchLOUD) March 21, 2015
Recent reports say that the real reason Yoba was fired from the hit TV series is for outing gay actor and Empire co-star Jussie Smollet. Daniels, who has long been openly gay and an avid supporter of the LGBT cause might have been irked of Yoba’s statement.
In an interview with Blackfilm.com, Yoba “accidentally” declared Smollet’s sexuality, saying, “So, obviously, Lee is gay. That was an important storyline for him. I think it’s important for people to see themselves. Even within the Black community. But if you aren’t really, really taking it off of screen and making it live in the community in a significant way … like I know Jussie, he is gay, and he’s very committed to issues around the LGBT community. He and I have a very close relationship.”
Yoba tried to save his Empire career by saying he was “misquoted in the article. My reference to Jussie was only about his character and storyline on Empire,” but it was too late.
When asked if it was Lee who pulled the trigger that took his role out, Yoba told The Combat Jack Show that, “There’s a woman named Ilene Chaiken that actually runs the show. Meaning, she runs the writer’s room, she’s in charge of hiring the directors and oversees the whole creative process of the show.
Malik Yoba on The Combat Jack Show