About this actor
Jurnee Diana Smollett (born October 1, 1986) is an American actress. She is best known for the role of Jess Merriweather on the critically acclaimed television series Friday Night Lights. Her most notable films are Eve's Bayou and The Great Debaters. She is currently starring in the Legal drama The Defenders as Lisa Tyler. Smollett was born in New York City, the daughter of Joel and Janet Smollett . The fourth of six performing siblings, she received critical acclaim for playing a ten-year-old who finds her father (Samuel L. Jackson) in a compromising position in the independent drama Eve's Bayou (1997). The performance earned her a Young Star Award nomination. In casting the role, writer-director Kasi Lemmons had 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 television comedy On Our Own (1994–1995) and appeared in numerous television shows such as Hangin' with Mr. Cooper and Full House in...