'Empire' star Jussie Smollett comes out: 'There's never been a closet that I've been in'

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'Empire' star Jussie Smollett comes out: 'There's never been a closet that I've been in'
EMPIRE: Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) shows up at Empire in the 'Outspoken King' episode of EMPIRE airing Monday, Jan. 14, 2015 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Jamal (Jussie Smollett, L) records at a 'ghetto' studio in the 'Dangerous Bonds' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Lucious (Terrence Howard, R) protects Anika in the 'False Imposition' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 06: Jussie Smollett arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of 'Empire' held at ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome on January 6, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
EMPIRE: Michael (guest star Rafael de la Fuente, L), Jamal (Jussie Smollett, C) and Porsha (guest star Ta'Rhonda Jones, R) wait for Cookie to arrive in the 'Out Damned Spot' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) holds a secret in the 'Out Damned Spot' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) gives Hakeem some advice in the 'False Imposition' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Gladys Knight performs as herself at Bunkie's funeral in the 'Devil Quotes Scripture' episode airing Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Anika (Grace Gealey, L) runs into Porsha (guest star Ta'Rhonda Jones, R) in the 'Out Damned Spot' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Anika (Grace Gealey, L), Lucious (Terrence Howard, C) listen to Hakeem's (Bryshere Gray, R) new song in the 'Out Damned Spot' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Lucious (Terrence Howard) delivers a eulogy for Bunkie in the 'Devil Quotes Scripture' episode airing Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Cookie (Taraji P. Henson, L) and Jamal (Jussie Smollett, R) pay their respects to Bunkie in the 'Devil Quotes Scripture' episode airing Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Hakeem (Bryshere Gray, L) and Cookie (Taraji P. Henson, R) chat in the 'Out Damned Spot' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Hakeem (Bryshere Gray) is upset in the 'Dangerous Bonds' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: In a Flashback episode, Lucious (Terrence Howard) rehearses at home in the 'False Imposition' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Hakeem (Bryshere Gray, R) introduces his new girlfriend Tiana (guest star Serayah McNeill, L) in the 'Devil Quotes Scripture' episode airing Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) visits an old friend in the 'Devil Quotes Scripture' episode airing Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Andre (Trai Byers, L) and Hakeem (Bryshere Gray, R) have a conversation in the 'Devil Quotes Scripture' episode airing Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Lucious (Terrence Howard) toasts his family in the 'Devil Quotes Scripture' episode airing Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. Pictured L-R: Jussie Smollett, Serayah McNeill, Taraji P. Henson, Bryshere Gray, Grace Gealey, Terrence Howard, Trai Byers and Kaitlin Doubleday. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Lucious (Terrence Howard, C) surprises Anika (Grace Gealey, R) with a performance from Anthony Hamilton (guest star) in the 'Dangerous Bonds' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Anika (Grace Gealey) watches a performance in the 'Devil Quotes Scripture' episode airing Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Andre (Trai Byers, L) and Cookie (Taraji P. Henson, R) chat in the 'Dangerous Bonds' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Anika (Grace Gealey, L) and Lucious (Terrence Howard, R) have a chat in the 'False Imposition' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Lucious (Terrence Howard, R) talks to Hakeem (Bryshere Gray, L) in the 'False Imposition' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Michael (guest star Rafael de la Fuente, L), Jamal (Jussie Smollett, C) and Porsha (guest star Ta'Rhonda Jones, R) wait for Cookie to arrive in the 'Out Damned Spot' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Hakeem (Bryshere Gray, R) and Jamal (Jussie Smollett, L) perform in the 'Outspoken King' episode of EMPIRE airing Monday, Jan. 14, 2015 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
Marisa Tomei arrives at the 30th Film Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015, in Santa Monica, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
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As Empire continues to break TV records, much of the media attention has turned to the hit series' youngest cast members, Trai Byers (Andre), Bryshere Gray (Hakeem), and most notably Jussie Smollett, who plays budding gay R&B star Jamal Lyon.

In a new interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Smollett opens up about his personal life and addresses ongoing rumors surrounding his sexuality. "There's never been a closet that I've been in," the 31-year-old actor tells the talk show host backstage.

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"So that's why I choose not to talk 'bout my personal life," he continues. "But there is without a doubt, no closet that I've ever been in, and I just wanted to make that clear, but it was most important for me to make that clear to you on your show at this time in the world. And that's where I'm at."

The conversation follows a discussion the two had about Smollett's on-screen character, who recently came out on the show.

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"I think when I brought up the fact that your character came out and we talked about it and you were expressing yourself, I think a lot of people are still questioning and when we finished the show they were like, 'Is he, isn't he?'" DeGeneres says, adding that she felt it was her responsibility to give the actor a chance to open up.

"There are questions out there so I think that's why it was my responsibility to at least give you the opportunity. And I am so proud of you that you say there is no closet. There never has been a closet."

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Smollett's admission comes less than a week after his co-star Malik Yoba reportedly outted him in an interview with Black Film.

"Obviously, Lee [Daniels, producer] is gay. That was an important storyline for him. I think it's important for people to see themselves," Yoba said at the time. "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."

The actor later followed up with a statement saying he was misquoted by the publication: "I was misquoted in the article. My reference to Jussie was only about his character and story line on Empire."

And now, Smollett has the final word telling DeGeneres, "Boom. Now you don't even gotta ask no more."

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