"There's never been a closet that I've been in," Smollett told Ellen DeGeneres in a backstage conversation after an appearance on her show. "I choose not to talk about my personal life. But there is, without a doubt, no closet that I've ever been in, and I just wanted to make that clear."
During his actual interview segment on the show, Smollett - whose character on Empire is gay and came out in a recent episode - didn't address his sexuality head-on, but told DeGeneres: "I get some ignorant tweets every once in a while. You know, and I know you're not supposed to respond ... but sometimes you got to clap back. ... You can not allow people to spew hate."
After they filmed the interview, however, Smollett approached DeGeneres backstage to clarify his comments. "I think a lot of people are still questioning ... Is he? Isn't he?" DeGeneres told Smollett, saying she wanted to give him the opportunity to come out publicly. (On Empire, Jamal's sexuality is a source of tension between him and his father Lucious, played by Terrence Howard.)
"When I say that I don't talk about my personal life, I'm saying that, but it is in no way to hide or deny who God made me. My Mama knows. My Mama likes me a lot ... and yes, I take her to the Sound of Music sing-along every year," he quipped.
Smollett recently landed a record deal with Columbia Records.
Watch Smollett's interview and backstage segment here: