Long Beach Pride 2018: ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett to headline festival

LONG BEACH — “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett will headline the 35th Annual Long Beach Pride, organizers announced today.

Smollett, who identifies as gay and also is a singer-songwriter and has showcased his musical talents on the Fox night-time drama, will perform May 19 at 8:30 p.m. on the Long Beach Pride Festival main stage.

Smollett, 35, released his debut studio album, “The Sum of My Music,” last month. The music is drenched in soulful R&B, pop, and hip-hop.

Sheila E. has been announced as the Pride Festival headliner May 20.

The festival will take place on Shoreline Drive between Shoreline Village Drive and Alamitos Avenue at Marina Green and Rainbow Lagoon parks.

Tickets are$20 online and and $25 at the gate.

The Long Beach Pride Parade will take place May 20 along Ocean Boulevard.

Long Beach Pride 2018: Festival to include LGBTQ seniors’ area

Smollett, who was born in Santa Rosa, appeared in “The Mighty Ducks,” “North,” and  Patrik-Ian Polk‘s LGBTQ-themed comedy-drama “The Skinny,” before joining “Empire” in 2014. Smollett stars as tortured son Jamal Lyon, a singer muddled in and by his family’s drama surrounding their music empire.

“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett will headline the 35th Annual Long Beach Pride Festival. The singer’s debut album came out last month. Photo: Fox.

“Music has always been my heart. Something I can always and will always create,” Smollett said in a statement last month when his album was released. “When I was working day jobs in offices, as a waiter, in retail or even as a clown at children’s parties, music was the thing that I could always do at night, on weekends, in the morning time. I could create music around anything I was doing. There’s never an excuse to not create.”

Smollett’s vocals also are featured on the “Empire Season 1 Original Soundtrack” with the tracks “Good Enough” and “You’re So Beautiful.”

Smollett sang “Freedom” and “Catch Your Eye” from “Sum of My Music” earlier this year on “Empire.”

Last year, Smollett received NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding New Artist and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

Smollett also works with the Black AIDS Institute to fight HIV in the black community.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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