John Legend, Zendaya, and Kerry Washington have shared their love and prayers for actor Jussie Smollett after he was beaten in a suspected hate crime in Chicago, Illinois.
The TV star was attacked by two white men in the early hours of Tuesday (29Jan19) as he returned to his apartment after stepping out to get some food.
The suspects are said to have recognized Smollett from his role as a gay musician on hit drama series Empire, and shouted racial and homophobic slurs as they began beating him up. The actor also had an unidentified chemical substance poured over him, and had a noose tied around his neck.
He was hospitalized for treatment, and police have since launched a search for the culprits, who have yet to be identified.
According to The Blast, detectives are also looking for any surveillance video footage of the incident, which they are treating as a "possible hate crime".
The news sent shockwaves through Hollywood as celebrities took to social media to share their disgust and heartache at the brutal attack.
"Sending love to Jussie and the Smollett family after this horrific attack," tweeted John Legend. "We support you and pray that you find peace and justice."
Zendaya wrote, "This is heartbreaking and terrifying...please pay attention to what's happening here. Sending all my love to @JussieSmollett," as Kerry Washington posted, "DEAR GOD! Prayers and justice for Jussie Smollett."
"I am horrified. We need more love and positivity, this is not okay. Stay strong @JussieSmollett," added singer/actress Katharine McPhee.
Openly-gay Star Trek icon George Takei declared, "This is horrific. What kind of country do we live in," while Will & Grace star Sean Hayes shared, "I can't believe we still live in a country where hate is so severe. My heart, love and healing thoughts go out to @JussieSmollett. I'm with you, my friend."
Other stars to express their horror at the situation include actress Jane Lynch, comedienne Margaret Cho, actor Ike Barinholtz, and celebrity DJ Samantha Ronson.
Meanwhile, Empire production bosses at 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment have vowed to do all they can to help bring the suspects to justice.
"We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our EMPIRE family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night," reads a joint statement. "We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice. The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate - and especially against one of our own."
And officials at GLAAD, the media monitoring organisation for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community, have reached out to Smollett's representatives and Empire executives to offer their help.
GLAAD chiefs add in a statement, "Jussie is a true champion for LGBTQ people and is beloved by the community and allies around the world."
A spokesperson for the actor, 35, has yet to comment on the attack.
He previously addressed speculation about his sexuality in a candid chat on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2015, revealing that while he has long identified as a gay man, he prefers to keep his private life away from the cameras.
"There is no closet, there's never been a closet that I've been in," he said.