Jurnee Smollett stars in "The Defenders" on CBS as Lisa Tyler. Previously, she starred in "Friday Night Lights" on NBC and Direct TV as Jess Merriweather.

An award-winning actress and activist of unique caliber, Jurnee Smollett most recently starred in "The Great Debaters" alongside Forest Whitaker and Denzel Washington, who also directed the drama. In addition to receiving rave reviews, the film was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Picture and Smollett won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a motion picture.

Smollett made her breakthrough performance at the age of 11, starring in "Eve's Bayou" opposite Samuel L. Jackson, for which she won the Broadcast Film Critics Award for Best Youth Performance and was cited by Interview Magazine as one of the five Hollywood stars to watch in the new millennium.

Other film credits include starring in "Roll Bounce," "Gridiron Gang," and "Beautiful Joe" with Sharon Stone, as well as made-for-television films including "Selma Lord Selma" and "Ruby's Bucket of Blood" opposite Angela Bassett.

She recently guest starred in the season finale of "Grey's Anatomy." Other guest-starring appearances include roles on "House," "E.R.," "Strong Medicine," and "NYPD Blue." On television, Smollett has starred on the series "Wanda at Large" with Wanda Sykes and on "Cosby" with Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad, for which she won NAACP Image Awards in 2000 and 1999. She began her television acting career at the age of four with a recurring role on "Full House," later reviving the character for a season of "Hangin' with Mr. Cooper." She followed by starring in the 1994-1995 comedy "On Our Own" with her real-life sister and four brothers.

In addition to acting and singing, Smollett is an activist and the youngest board member of Artists for a New South Africa (ANSA), a nonprofit organization working in the U.S. and South Africa to combat HIV/AIDS, advance human rights, and educate and empower children orphaned by AIDS as well as other at-risk youth. Smollett has been involved with ANSA since the age of 11, and, in 2006, became ANSA's pioneer presenter for Positively Speaking, a program of the Los Angeles Unified District HIV/AIDS Prevention Unit that brings people infected or affected by the disease into middle and high school classes to tell their own stories and lead discussions. Smollett has traveled to South Africa through her efforts with ANSA, where she has met with Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Tutu, and Zackie Achmat, as well as people living with HIV/AIDS and children orphaned by the disease.

Smollett recently completed an official mission for the U.S. State Department in which she was sent to Botswana, Swaziland and South Africa to conduct workshops with women and youth about activism, empowerment and HIV/AIDS. She also recently joined the board of the Children's Defense Fund at the invitation of longtime mentor, Marian Wright Edelman.




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FACTS

How tall is she? How old is she? Find out here.

Age: 31 years old
Birthday: October 1, 1986
Height: 5' 6"
Full Name / Real Name: Jurnee Diana Smollett
Birthplace: New York, NY


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