Jussie Smollett is unlikely to be returning to 'Empire'.

The Fox show has been renewed for a sixth season but producers have revealed that the 36-year-old actor - who stars as Jamal Lyon in the hit series - will probably not be reappearing on the programme but he has had his contract extended to keep the future of his character open.

Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television said in a statement: ''By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett's option for season six, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to 'Empire.'''

Whilst a spokesperson for Jussie added: ''We've been told that Jussie will not be on 'Empire' in the beginning of the season but he appreciates they have extended his contract to keep Jamal's future open. Most importantly he is grateful to Fox and 'Empire' leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support.''

It comes after the cast of 'Empire' penned an open letter asking for Jussie to return to his role in the drama series.

An open letter, signed by his castmates including Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Bryshere Y. Gray, Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe and Nicole Ari Parker, has asked for bosses to bring the actor - who was accused of orchestrating a racist and homophobic attack on himself in January - back for the next series of the show after the City of Chicago dropped charges.

They wrote: ''Together, as a united front, we stand with Jussie Smollett and ask that our co-star, brother and friend be brought back for our sixth season of 'Empire'. Throughout Empire's five seasons working with Jussie and watching how he has conducted himself throughout this traumatic event, we have come to know not just the character Jussie portrays, but also truly come to know Jussie's personal character. He is kind. He is compassionate. He is honest and above all he is filled with integrity. He is also innocent and no longer subject to legal uncertainty with the criminal charges against him having been dropped.''