“It’s a great atmosphere,” Henson, 48, told Entertainment Tonight on Sunday.
She quickly pivoted the conversation to be about the content of the show, rather than the controversy surrounding her colleague.
“Cookie’s on a really emotional roller coaster this year,” Henson said of her fan-favorite character, Cookie Lyon. “She’s finding herself.”
Henson and Smollett’s “Empire” co-star Serayah McNeill previously admitted, however, that the scandal has had an impact on the rest of the cast.
“I think it definitely has an effect on everyone,” McNeill told Us Weekly. “Right now, everyone is fine and everyone is finishing up the season and being professional about it,” she told the magazine. “Everyone is acting very professionally, we all love this show and we have a job to do.”
Smollett’s co-star and onscreen father, Terrence Howard, voiced support for the troubled actor-singer.
“Empire” producers and showrunners previously stated that Smollett would be cut from the remainder of Season 5.
His role in the series beyond Season 5 remains to be determined.
In January, Smollett told police that two masked men attacked him, put a rope around his neck and poured bleach on him as he was walking home from a Subway restaurant. The actor, who is black and openly gay, said the masked men beat him, made racist and homophobic comments and yelled, “This is MAGA country” before fleeing the scene.
However, the Chicago Police Department alleges that Smollett paid the Osundairos by check for a “phony attack” in order to take “advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.”
The 36-year-old musician and actor was arrested for allegedly filing a false police report in the incident and released on a $100,000 bond.
He pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of disorderly conduct stemming from the alleged hoax. Smollett is also being investigated for allegedly sending himself a threatening hate letter to the “Empire” set, which could potentially land him behind bars for 10 years for mail fraud.
Smollett’s attorneys previously told Fox News they’ve “witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system. The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election. Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”