During The Cut's "How I Get It Done" event on Monday, Roberts, 58, admitted that she initially wasn't sure she wanted to proceed with the segment.
“I’ll be completely honest, I was like I don’t know if I want to do the interview or not,” she recalled, according to Page Six. “I said, ‘I don’t want to sit down with him if he’s going to lawyer up.' And then I was told, ‘He wants to speak with you,’ [because] he was outraged by people making assumptions about whether it had happened or not.”
Per The Hollywood Reporter, Roberts said Smollett's team told her that she could challenge the "Empire" actor on what she saw as "red flags" in the alleged attack and that the 36-year-old would also give her new information he hadn't said anywhere else.
"I'm like — as a journalist and as a news person, this is his right," Roberts stated. "He's going on the record for the first time. Yes, I'll do the interview."
Roberts' interview with Smollett aired on Feb. 14. but was taped two days earlier.
“I sit down with him, and I don’t know what he’s going to say,” she remembered. “Following up [about how] he couldn’t believe people didn’t believe him, well I go, ‘You’re out 2 o’clock in the morning, you’re getting a sandwich, [and] you won’t give up your phone.'”
Although she didn't know how the interview was going to go, Roberts said she worked to stay as "neutral" as possible.
“I’m a black gay woman, he’s a black gay man,” she said. “He’s saying that there’s a hate crime, so if I’m too hard, then my LGBT community is going to say, ‘You don’t believe a brother,’ if I’m too light on him, it’s like, 'Oh, because you are in the community, you’re giving him a pass.'”
“It was a no-win situation for me,” Roberts added.
After Smollett sat down with Roberts, Chicago police questioned two brothers in the reported attack and released them without charges. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said at the time that the pair had given officers information that had "shifted the trajectory of the investigation.”
“People are looking at the interview through the eyes of ‘How did you not know?'” Roberts said. “I did the interview 48 hours before then. Had I had that information or [knew] what the brothers were alleging, heck yeah, I would have asked him about that.”
“I pride myself in being fair, I know how much work went into being balanced about what had happened and to challenge him on certain things."
Roberts ended by saying that when the interview happened, Smollett was considered a victim, and she chose her questions accordingly.
“There’s so many people who do not come forward because others are not believed. I don’t know how this is all going to end,” she said. “We still talk to the [Chicago] police superintendent [Eddie T. Johnson].”
“It was one of the most challenging interviews I’ve ever had to do."
Smollett told police in late January that he was attacked by two masked men as he was walking home from a Subway sandwich shop at around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29. The actor, who is black and gay, said the masked men beat him, made derogatory comments and yelled "This is MAGA country" — an apparent reference to President Trump's campaign slogan "Make America Great Again" — before fleeing.
But that isn't how police say it all went down.
Smollett, who is accused of filing a false police report, was charged last month with felony disorderly conduct. After turning himself in, a judge set Smollett's bond for $100,000 and he was released from jail. If convicted, he faces up to three years behind bars.
According to the Chicago Police Department, Smollett paid Abimbola "Abel" and Olabinjo "Ola" Osundairo via check for a "phony attack" in order to take "advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career."
Smollett has maintained his innocence. The actor's legal counsel told Fox News after Smollett was accused of filing the fake police report that the nation "witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system.
"The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election," his team continued.
"Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”
Read more on FoxNews.com.