Jussie Smollett Says It’s ‘Wonderful’ To Return to Hollywood at BET Awards (Exclusive)

The actor opened up to ET on the red carpet on Sunday about returning to work following his legal controversy.

Jussie Smollett has made his return to Hollywood after his slew of legal troubles over the past three and half years, and he's excited to be making his art again.

Smollett spoke with ET's Kevin Frazier on the red carpet at this year's BET Awards, at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, and opened up about his career comeback as a director of the BET+ original movie B-Boy Blues.

While Smollett said he "never thought of myself as working my way back," he admitted that getting the chance to get back on a set and create following his legal scandal has been "wonderful."

"This has always been the plan, to expand my empire, so to speak," Smollett said of stepping behind the camera to helm a project and work with other actors as a director. "To expand the level of what I want to do... to be able to usher in a new generation of artists and actors and these amazing talents."

Starring, Timothy Richardson, Ledisi, Brandee Evans, Heather B, Marquise Vilson, Jabari Redd, Broderick Hunter and Thomas Mackie, B-Boy Blues is the film adaptation of James Earl Hardy’s novel by the same name.

Smollett's directorial debut comes after he was sentenced to 150 days behind bars in March and given 30 months of felony probation -- three months after he was found guilty on five of the six counts of disorderly conduct for which he was charged. 

Smollett also had a message for those who stuck by him and supported him throughout his legal scandal as he staunchly denied wrongdoing.

"I tell them, with all my heart, just thank you," Smollett told ET. "They never waivered, they never straddled the fence, and for that I am forever grateful. I don't take that lightly for a moment."

"My family, my friends, the true ones, if I never get to hug you in person, know that there's a hug in my heart that I genuinely mean," he added.

Apart from his sentence, the former Empire star was also ordered to pay $120,106 in restitution to the City of Chicago and fined $25,000 following his report that he was the victim of a hate crime in January 2019. Smollett had just begun serving his 5-month sentence when was released from Cook County Jail on bond, while his legal team works to appeal his conviction.

For more on his ongoing legal battle, see the video below.