Jurnee Smollett-Bell, born Jurnee Diana Smollett, was born on Oct. 1, 1986 in New York City, one of six children to parents Joel and Janet. Smollett-Bell began acting professionally as a young child, making her screen debut in the short film "Sunday in Paris" (1991). More memorable early turns involved recurring performances on popular TV shows "Full House" (ABC 1987-1995) and "Hangin' with Mr. Cooper" (ABC 1992-97), playing the character Denise Frazer on both series. Smollet-Bell and her siblings Jojo, Jazz, Jussie, and Jocqui then co-headlined their own sitcom, "On Our Own" (ABC 1994-95). After the conclusion of this program, Smollett-Bell toggled between film and television work, appearing notably in the Robin Williams movie "Jack" (1994) and the TV series "Cosby" (1996-2000). In her teen years, Smollett-Bell turned her attention away from family comedies and toward material like "Wanda at Large" (Fox 2003) and "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC 2005-). She joined the popular high school drama "Friday Night Lights" (NBC/The 101 Network 2006-2011) in its fourth season, playing aspiring football coach Jess Merriweather. After headlining the short-lived dramedy "The Defenders" (CBS 2010-11) and the Tyler Perry-directed TV movie "Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor" (2013), Smollett-Bell returned to supporting parts on high-profile series like "Parenthood" (NBC 2010-15) and "True Blood" (HBO 2008-14). Smollett-Bell returned to top billing with "Underground" (WGN America 2016-), an 1850s America period drama on which she played a slave on the quest for freedom.
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Landed recurring role on ABC family sitcom "Full House"
Played recurring role on "Hangin' With Mr. Cooper" (ABC)
Featured alongside siblings on short-lived ABC comedy "On Our Own"
Made film acting debut in "Jack"
Earned critical raves for performance as a young girl who undergoes a loss of innocence in haunting "Eve's Bayou"
Joined cast of CBS sitcom "Cosby"
Starred in ABC movie "Selma, Lord, Selma"
Played Wanda Sykes' niece on Fox series "Wanda at Large"
Cast in Denzel Washington's directorial debut "The Great Debaters"
Co-starred on final two seasons of "Friday Night Lights" (NBC)
Acted opposite Jim Belushi and Jerry O'Connell on legal drama "The Defenders" (CBS)
Starred in "Tyler Perry's Tempation"
Took on the role of Nicole on the series "True Blood"
Nabbed a supporting role in the biographical sports drama "Hands of Stone"
Played Rosalee on slavery drama "Underground"
Began voicing Chrysta on "Sofia the First"