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Who is Jussie Smollett? 4 things you didn’t know about the ‘Empire’ actor

Though many know him for his role as Jamal Lyon on the Fox show, there's more to Jussie Smollett than "Empire." | AP photo

Jussie Smollett has been in the spotlight for weeks after he told Chicago police that he was the target of a racist and homophobic attack. Thursday, Supt. Eddie Johnson said the alleged assault was “orchestrated” by the actor because Smollett was dissatisfied with his salary on the show. Johnson added that a threatening letter, addressed to Smollett, was also part of the ruse.

Though many know him for his role as Jamal Lyon on the Fox show, there’s more to Smollett than “Empire.”

Here are four things you may not have known about the 36-year-old star:

He’s been acting since he was a kid

Smollett’s acting career started when he was nine with a role in “The Mighty Ducks” in 1992 and then Rob Reiner’s “North” in 1994. At 11, he played the son of Halle Berry and Danny Glover in Alex Haley’s “Queen.” Smollett and his five siblings, who also have careers in the industry, acted together in “On Our Own.” Other notable highlights include appearances in “The Mindy Project” in 2012 and “Alien: Covenant” in 2017, according to Smollett’s IMDb profile.

His true passion is music

Though he’s known for his acting career, Smollett has also found success as a musician. The “Empire” soundtrack, which reached the top of Billboard charts, featured Smollett as a writer and singer. Two of the songs “Conqueror” and “You’re so Beautiful,” were nominated for NAACP Image Awards in 2016. Smollett has performed at the Kennedy Center, and has even sang for former President Barack Obama upon the request of then first lady Michelle, according to his website. Smollett’s debut album “Sum of My Music,” was released last year.

He’s actively involved with multiple charities

Smollett is involved with the Black AIDS Institute,, The Trayvon Martin Foundation, and the RuJohn Foundation, according to his website.

He loves to cook

Smollett had his own Food Network show in 2016 called “Smollett Eats” with his five siblings Jake, Jocqui, Jojo, Jazz and Jurnee. He and three of his siblings published a cookbook, “The Family Table: Recipes and Moments from a Nomadic Life.”

RELATED: A timeline of Jussie Smollett’s reported attack and its investigation