- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Ellen Page defended her initial reactions to fellow actor Jussie Smollett’s claims of a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago, saying she had “no reason” to doubt him.

The star of “The Umbrella Academy” took to The Hollywood Reporter this week to address the fallout from her recent appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” as well as the arrest of Mr. Smollett on charges of felony disorderly conduct and filing a false police report.

“The conversation around Jussie Smollett has led us all to examine hate violence and its implications and aftermath,” Ms. Page wrote for Wednesday’s op-ed in THR. “I had no reason to doubt Jussie. My work on ‘Gaycation’ — the docuseries I produced to chronicle LGBTQ+ stories from around the world — introduced me to many survivors of hate violence. I know how prevalent and pernicious it can be. If this situation was staged, it could make victims even more reluctant to report these crimes. Very real crimes.

“While the media and public debate the case and await more information, we must not lose sight of the very real, endemic violence that LGBTQ+ people, people of color and other underrepresented communities face every day,” she wrote.

Ms. Page’s appearance on Mr. Colbert’s show came two days after Mr. Smollet claimed he was attacked at roughly 2 a.m. on Jan. 29.

Mr. Smollett, a black gay man who stars on the hit Fox show “Empire,” said he was walking through the city in sub-zero weather when two men with rope and bleach recognized him, hurled racial and homophobic insults, and attempted to pummel him while proclaiming allegiance to “MAGA country.”

At the time, an emotional Ms. Page lashed out at the Trump administration, particularly Vice President Mike Pence, blaming the former Indiana governor for fomenting hate against the LGBTQ community.

“It feels impossible to not feel this way now with the president and the vice president, Mike Pence, who wishes I couldn’t be married,” Ms. Page told Mr. Colbert. “Let’s be clear: The vice president of America wishes I didn’t have the love [I have] with my wife. He wanted to ban that in Indiana. He believes in conversion therapy. He has hurt LGBTQ people so badly as the governor of Indiana.

“Connect the dots,” she said. “This is what happens. If you are in a position of power and you hate people, and you want to cause suffering to them — you go through the trouble, you spend your career trying to cause suffering — what do you think is gonna happen? Kids are gonna be abused, and they’re gonna kill themselves. And people are gonna be beaten on the street.”

A video of the interview uploaded to YouTube has received over 1.5 million views.

An extensive police investigation that required viewing hundreds of hours of surveillance footage led authorities to brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, who said they were hired by the actor for an orchestrated attack.

Mr. Smollett could face up to three years in prison and potentially be required to reimburse the Chicago Police Department if he is found guilty of the charges against him.

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