Disgraced former “Empire” Jussie Smollett just gave a rare interview in which he maintained his innocence after he was accused of staging a hate crime against himself in January of 2019.

“What happened in these last two years, it has humbled me in a way that nobody could possibly understand,” Smollett said this week in his first interview in almost two years. “Out of all these jokers in this entire situation, I am the only human being who has not changed his story one time.”

Smollett gave the interview to former CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill, who posted it on his Instagram page. Hill asked the actor what the biggest lie that he’s heard about himself since this scandal began is.

“Well, I mean that I did a hoax, obviously,” Smollett replied. “I am a human being like everybody else… I ingest the media, I read the headlines, and all that type of stuff. I’ve been guilty of taking things at face value as well. But when you see that happening, and they talking about you, and you know – you know that it’s not true – somehow it becomes different.”

Smollett went on to say that the narrative was “intentionally created” to make people doubt his claim.

“It was set up to make it seem like I was lying about something or everything,” he said.

In January of 2019, Smollett, who is black and gay, claimed that he was jumped by two men who hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him while also shouting “this is MAGA country.” Chicago police, however, concluded that Smollett had allegedly staged the attack, paying two friends to jump him so that he could increase his profile and secure a pay raise on “Empire.”

In his new interview, however, Smollett denied once again that he had staged the attack himself.

“There would be no reason for me to do something like this,” he said. “There would be no reason for me to do something foolish… and I do think that if you look at all of the things that were happening for me, and then for all of the opportunities and all of the money… whatever, that I have lost at this point, if in fact what they said was true, the smart thing to do would be to admit that. At least there would be a place to work back from. This is bulls—t. It’s bulls—t.”

Smollett added that he’s most frustrated over the fact that he’s never had the opportunity to tell his side of the story.

“It’s been frustrating to say the least. It’s been frustrating. It’s been beyond frustrating because to be somebody that’s so outspoken, to be somebody that speaks up for so much and speaks up about so many things, it’s been difficult to kinda be, you know, quiet,” Smollett said. “To not be able to say all of the things that you want to say, to not be able to yell from the rooftop because, I don’t think that people realize I’ve just been wrapped up in some form of a case for the last… approaching, in just a couple months, two years.”

“So it’s been beyond frustrating, and I think that I’m certainly not going rogue, and I’m still taking the advice of my attorneys and everything like that. I just don’t see, honestly, what staying quiet has done, where it’s gotten me,” he continued. “Then there’s the bigger picture that it’s so much bigger than me.”

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