In May 2018, Jussie Smollett appeared as the narrator and correspondent in an episode of the Epix documentary series "America Divided" that explored the subject of Tennessee hate crimes, specifically lynching.
The "Empire" actor has been charged with filing a false police report of a racist and homophobic attack that included the placing of a rope around his neck.
Chicago police are convinced he staged his own hate attack because he was "dissatisfied with his salary," and paid two brothers to carry it out.
Smollett's involvement in the Epix documentary is now cast in a different light.
"When the news initially came out, we were horrified by the story and for myself, it's hard to get away from the coincidence," episode director Lucian Read said.
"Of course in this country we believe in innocent until proven guilty and all that, but assuming the allegations are true, I wonder whether coincidence is the right word - to take this truth and turn it into a fiction like that."
Read said that Smollett was "a pleasure to work with" and that, despite the "crazy, strange" developments, he's still "very proud" of the episode.
"We really believed it was the strongest episode in the series and explored issues that need to be discussed in this country. ... Jussie and all of us were extremely committed to making a great show," Read said.
In episode four of Season Two, Smollett visits the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, which is "dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorised by lynching."
He talks with its founder, Bryan Stevenson, about the lack of recognition for this terrible part of American history, and later sits down for a tense conversation with the spokesperson for the family of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general whose statue was removed from a park in Memphis last year.
Australian Associated Press