Empire audiences, mark your calendars — the Fox series is returning for a sixth season.
Fox announced on Tuesday that the music drama, which premiered in 2015, has been renewed.
“Empire continues to break barriers with its emotionally powerful storytelling, and it remains a core part of the FOX legacy,” said President, Entertainment for FOX Entertainment, Michael Thorn. “We want to thank everyone on the show — Taraji, Terrence and the entire cast, as well as Lee, Danny, Brett, Sanaa, Brian, Francie, Dennis and their teams — all of whom have done a tremendous job this season. We know there are so many more stories to tell, and we can’t wait to see what they have in store for season six.”
The network also announced that it has “no plans” for Jussie Smollett‘s character, Jamal Lyon, to return. The news comes three months after Smollett allegedly staged a hate crime.
In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV said, “By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for season six, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to Empire.“
Following the news, a rep for Smollett told The Hollywood Reporter, “We’ve been told Jussie will not be on Empire in the beginning of the season but he appreciates they have extended his contract to keep Jamal’s future open. Most importantly he is grateful to Fox and Empire leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support.”
The future of the Lee Daniels and Danny Strong co-created series was unknown in the wake of star Smollett’s criminal case before the charges against him were dropped at the end of March.
Smollett, 36, told police he’d been physically attacked on the street in his downtown Chicago neighborhood around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29 by two black-clad, masked men who used racist and homophobic slurs, doused him with an “unknown chemical substance” and left him with a rope around his neck.
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