LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — He was nominated but did not win — he didn’t even show up. But Jussie Smollett still stole the show Saturday at the 50th Annual NAACP Image Awards held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

The boulevard was partially closed Saturday as the red carpet was set up.

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Smollett’s award was actually handed out last night in a non-televised portion of the awards and he didn’t show there either.

As KCAL9’s Laurie Perez reports, the embattled actor might not have been in attendance but he was very much the topic of conversation.

On a packed red carpet — filled with the best, brightest, most beautiful artists and advocates of color, all eyes were on the lookout for the man who didn’t show up.

He was nominated as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama for his work on “Empire.”

“I’m not one to ever want to exclude anyone and I think everyone deserves a second and even sometimes third chances,” said Jon Huertas who plays Miguel on “This is Us.”

Many of Smollett’s peers were remarkably generous about his legal troubles. He’s been mostly mum since his arrest on more than a dozen felony counts for allegedly lying to police about a hate crime and then the stunning move of having all the charges dropped.

Some on the red carpet said they don’t need or want an explanation. Not yet, anyway.

“Sometimes you want to just be able to come home and just have a welcoming place to say come on we don’t need to talk about anything – when you’re ready just come on back,” says TV personality and celebrity chef Carla Hall.

Others agreed with that sentiment saying there would have been no better place for Smollett to make his first public appearance here  – among people who know him and who have worked with him, despite — and because of — his trouble.

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Related Link: List Of Winners For The 50th Annual NAACP Image Awards

Several actors who know him or have worked with him have been especially concerned.

“We send nothing but love and support for him, we all film in Chicago together on the same lot and we just want to send love to that situation,” says Jacob Lattimore who stars on “The Chi.”

(credit: CBS)

“When things happen you kind of band together but we just all want the best for him,” says Meta Golding who plays Teri on “Empire.”

It is, they said, in the spirit of the NAACP Image Awards to offer support without judgment.

“Jussie Smollett is like a son, and he’s a very talented human being, I believe in him,” says Rep. Maxine Waters.

TV pundit Donna Brazile also weighed in.

“Due process was done in this case, we don’t know all of the intricacies that’s in the documentation. And I want to see if anything what new evidence that

comes up, right now we just gotta let him move on with his life,” Brazile said.

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Smollett has been nominated four times for an Image Award and this was the first year he did not attend.