Jurnee Smollett-Bell

Jurnee Smollett-Bell Biography

Jurnee Diana Smollett-Bell (born October 1, 1986) is an American actress. She is known for the role of Jess Merriweather on the television series Friday Night Lights, as well as roles in the films Eve's Bayou and The Great Debaters.

Early life and career

Smollett was born Jurnee Diana Smollett in New York City, the daughter of Janet and Joel Smollett, a cable splicer. Her father is Jewish (his family immigrated from Russia and Poland) and her mother is of African-American, Native American, Creole, and Irish descent. The fourth of six performing siblings, she received critical acclaim for her performance as ten-year-old Eve in the independent film Eve's Bayou (1997). In casting the role, writer-director Kasi Lemmons envisioned "a light-skinned black child who could convey the nuances of a Creole child in the 60s."

She co-starred with her siblings in the ABC television comedy On Our Own (1994"1995) and guest appeared in numerous television shows: Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, Full House, Martin, Wanda At Large, House, Grey's Anatomy, etc. Smollett co-starred in the last two seasons of Friday Night Lights.

Smollett was featured in the 1996 Francis Ford Coppola film Jack. She starred in the racially charged 1999 Disney film Selma, Lord, Selma. In 2000, she co-starred with Sharon Stone (Smollett played daughter of Stone's Hush) and Billy Connelly in the comedy film Beautiful Joe. 2001 would find Jurnee co-starring as daughter to another popular actress, Angela Bassett, in the film Ruby's Bucket of Blood. Smollett co-starred with actors Bow Wow and Brandon T Jackson in the 2005 skater movie Roll Bounce. In 2006, she joined the film Gridiron Gang. In 2007 actor/director Denzel Washington cast Smollett in his starring/directorial vehicle The Great Debaters. The film was produced by Oprah Winfrey and Harvey Weinstein.

On March 17, 2009, she visited eKhaya Multi Arts Centre for Arts and Performance, KwaMashu, north of Durban, South Africa, where she led an exchange youth forum sharing her experiences with KwaMashu youth.

From September 2010 to March 2011 she co-starred with Jim Belushi and Jerry O'Connell in the CBS legal drama The Defenders.

In 2013 Smollett starred with Lance Gross and Brandy Norwood in Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor. In January of the same year, it was announced that Smollett will be joining the cast of True Blood when the series' sixth season begin on June 16.

Personal life

Smollett has one sister, Jazz and four brothers: Jojo, Jussie, Jake and Jocqui. The Smollett siblings starred together on ABC's 1994-95 series On Our Own.

She has been active in HIV/AIDS causes since she was eleven. She spoke at the Ryan White Youth Conference, and elsewhere, on this issue. Her first encounter with the disease came at age seven when a crew member of On Our Own died of AIDS. Smollett is on the Board of Directors of Artists for a New South Africa, dedicated to dealing with HIV/AIDS in Africa. She is also on the Board of Directors for the Children's Defense Fund.

On October 24, 2010, Jurnee married musician Josiah Bell.



Year Title Role Other notes
1991 Sunday in Paris Alison Chase
1996 Jack Phoebe
1997 Eve's Bayou Eve Batiste
1999 Selma, Lord, Selma Sheyann Webb
2000 Beautiful Joe Vivien
2001 Ruby's Bucket of Blood Emerald Delacroix Made for television movie
2005 Roll Bounce Tori
2006 Gridiron Gang Danyelle Rollins
2007 The Great Debaters Samantha BookeNAACP Image Award for Best Actress
2013 Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor Judith Lead role


Year Series Role Other notes
1992 Hangin' with Mr. Cooper Denise Frazer 3 episodes
Martin Little GirlI Saw Gina Kissing Santa Claus
1992"1994 Full House Denise Frazer 11 episodes
1995 On Our Own Jordee Jerrico 7 episodes
1996 NYPD Blue Hanna
1998"2000 Cosby Jurnee 8 episodes
2002 Strong Medicine Ruby Positive
ER Romy "Next of Kin"
2003 Wanda at Large Holly Hawkins4 episodes
2006 House M.D. TracyFools for Love
2007 Grey's Anatomy Beth Freedom (Grey's Anatomy)
2009-2011 Friday Night Lights Jess Merriweather 26 episodes
2010-2011 The Defenders Lisa Tyler
2012 The Mob Doctor Traci Coolidge
2013 True Blood Nicole Wright Season 6, main cast
2013 Do No Harm Ms. Young's Daughter Season 1, guest star


  • Black Reel Awards
    • 2006, Best Ensemble (Roll Bounce) Nominated
    • 2002, Best Supporting Actress- Network/Cable (Ruby's Bucket of Blood) Nominated
  • Image Awards
    • 2010, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series- ("Friday Night Lights")- Nominated
    • 2008, Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture- (The Great Debaters) Winner
    • 2000, Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress- (Cosby) Winner
    • 1999, Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress- (Cosby) Winner
    • 1998, Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress- (Eve's Bayou) Nominated
  • Young Artist Awards
    • 1998, Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actress- (Eve's Bayou) Nominated
    • 1995, Best Performance by an Actress Under Ten in a TV Series- "On Our Own" Nominated

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Jurnee_Smollett" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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