Round two in actor Jussie Smollett's ongoing legal proceedings involving his alleged hate crime hoax from 2019 have officially began. However, it looks like the ex-Empire star sees things moving positively in his favor after TMZ caught up with him at the airport for a quick and candid conversation.

jussie smollett fight or die criminal case
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Smollett was approached while navigating to his car alongside his lawyer, both seen above entering the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Monday (February 24) in Chicago, and he was surprisingly a bit vocal when it came to giving a comment to the gossip outlet. "It's definitely frustrating, but you just have to — it's fight or die at this point," Jussie said in response to TMZ's question about how he's holding up. He went on to add that he doesn't "claim" to be innocent and that he in fact is, also stating that "the truth is the best defense" when asked whether he felt saying he didn't do it or claiming double jeopardy was the best defense at this point.

Follow the link below to watch the full clip over on TMZ, and let us know where your own opinion falls in this whole ordeal by sounding off down in the comments: