Jurnee Smollett is an award-winning actress and activist of rare talent and conviction. Most recently, she starred in J.J. Abrams, Jordan Peele, and Misha Green’s critically acclaimed drama for HBO, Lovecraft Country which premiered in August 2020. Smollett’s performance was lauded by industry insiders and critics alike. Since the show’s release, Smollett has earned a Critics Choice Super Award for “Best Actress in a Horror Series” and was nominated for an Emmy Award and NAACP Image Award for “Best Lead Actress in a Drama.”
In February 2020, Jurnee played "Black Canary" in Warner Bros DC Universe’s Birds of Prey. Up next, she will star in the Netflix original film, Escape from Spiderhead alongside Chris Hemsworth and Miles Teller. In 2021, she wrapped production on another Netflix original, Lou, produced by JJ Abrams, starring and executive producing alongside Allison Janney. She is also developing a DC Comics Black Canary feature spinoff with Misha Green and Sue Kroll.
Jurnee 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. Smollett starred in The Great Debaters with 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 Jurnee won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Motion Picture. She also starred in Tyler Perry’s film Temptation which was Perry’s biggest grossing box-office hit outside of his “Madea” brand. Other film credits include the independent feature, One Last Thing alongside Wendell Pierce, Hands of Stone opposite Robert DeNiro and Edgar Ramirez, Roll Bounce, Gridiron Gang, and Beautiful Joe.
In addition to film, Jurnee has had several roles on the small screen. She was seen starring in WGN’s critically acclaimed drama Underground which followed the escape and risk-filled travel along the Underground Railroad. The premiere of the show marked the highest-rated original scripted program in the network’s history. Other television credits include HBO’s cult classic horror drama True Blood, NBC’s hit shows Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, House, Strong Medicine, NYPD Blue, and Grey’s Anatomy. She has also lent her voice to several episodes of the popular Disney Channel series, Sofia The First.
Smollett is an activist for HIV/AIDS causes and Time’s Up. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Children’s Defense Fund.