Speaking at the "Empire" fall finale viewing party at the Gansevoort Hotel in New York City, Jussie Smollett remembered the hilarious moment that the show's creator, Lee Daniels, delivered the news that he was going to be the new face of Pepsi, joining the likes of Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, and Beyoncé.
"[He] sat me down and said, 'I need to talk to you,'" Smollett recounted -- that's when he asked if he was being taken off the show "because no one is safe on 'Empire.' He said, 'Well, you're not being fired, but we want Jamal to take a sabbatical.'"
Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon on FOX's hit show, then joked if he should start auditioning for NBC's "The Wiz: Live" now that he was going to be off the show. But Daniels was just kidding around, so that wouldn't be necessary.
"He was quiet for a second and then he was like, 'Stupid b***h you ain't being sent on a sabbatical -- you're the new face of Pepsi!'"
Watch Jussie Smollett announce his partnership with Pepsi:
A video posted by Jussie Smollett (@jussiesmollett) on
Smollett's partnership with Pepsi goes beyond being a spokesman for the brand in real life: The deal involved a multi-episode story arc in which his character, Jamal, also creates a song and commercial. In some ways, as Smollett said, "exists in a parallel universe."
Being chosen to represent such an iconic brand was a humbling experience for Smollett, who noted that such a partnership was crucial in conveying Jamal's rising star in the fictional music industry represented in "Empire."
Watch Jamal Lyon's Pepsi commercial:
"In order to really create a space for fans of the show to see that Jamal is going to the next level of his career, Pepsi is that way of getting that across because we all know that from Michael to Madonna to Beyoncé to Britney -- everybody that they sign are superstars."
Sitting on the panel at the intimate viewing party, Smollett was funny, down-to-earth, and sentimental. He recalled the day that he direct-messaged Daniels on Instagram saying, "Can I please play Jamal?," and expressed his wonderment at how quickly his career has escalated over a "year and some change" to a point where he has his own Pepsi commercial.
His ascendence truly is astounding, and we can't help but feel like it's only just begun.
See more photos of Jussie Smollett:
Jussie Smollett from 'Empire'
OnlyOnAOL: 'Empire' star Jussie Smollett: 'No one is safe on 'Empire!''
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 03: Actor Jussie Smollett attends the 25th annual Children's Defense Fund Beat The Odds Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 3, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 02: #NextPepsiArtist Jussie Smollett attends the Pepsi Empire viewing party with at Gansevoort Park Avenue NYC on December 2, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Pepsi)
ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 14: Jussie Smollett, the face of Sean John 2015 Fall/Holiday campaign, visits Macy's at Lenox Square Mall on November 14, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 07: Actor Jussie Smollett arrives at GLAAD Gala at Hilton San Francisco Union Square on November 7, 2015 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Miikka Skaffari/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 24: Jussie Smollett (L) and Taraji P. Henson attend Entertainment Weekly's first ever 'EW Fest' presented by LG OLED TV on October 24, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12: Jussie Smollett attends the 'Empire' Series Season 2 New York Premiere at Carnegie Hall on September 12, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 30: Actor Jussie Smollett attends the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on August 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 16: Actors Jussie Smollett (L) and Bryshere 'Yazz' Gray accept the Choice TV Award for Breakout Show for Empire onstage at the Teen Choice Awards 2015 at the USC Galen Center on August 16, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Fox/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 16: Actor/singer Jussie Smollett performs onstage during the Teen Choice Awards 2015 at the USC Galen Center on August 16, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Fox/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 08: Actor Jussie Smollett attends HollyRod Foundation's 17th Annual DesignCare Gala at The Lot Studios on August 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 08: Actor Jussie Smollett attends the HollyRod Foundation's 17th annual DesignCare Gala at The Lot Studios on August 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tiffany Rose/Getty Images for HollyRod Foundation)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JULY 04: Actor Jussie Smollett attends the 2015 Essence Music Festival - Seminars - Day 3 on July 4, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 28: Actor Jussie Smollett attends the 2015 BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on June 28, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)