Childhood & Early Life
Smith was born on February 28, 1971, in Camden, New Jersey. She was raised by a single mother, Monique Smith. Smith has a twin sister, Sidra Smith, who is an equally popular celebrity. A writer and producer, Sidra Smith is acknowledged for works such as ‘A Luv Tale,’ ‘Dare Devil,’ and ‘Free Angela and All Political Prisoners.’
Growing up, Smith shared a strained relationship with her mother. Monique Smith was a drug addict, and the Smith sisters never came to terms with their mother’s compulsive drug abuse. Their relationships, however, improved when the girls got older and became more understanding and sympathetic.
She dropped out of ‘Camden High School’ in her freshman year, and for a brief period, turned to drugs. She moved to the West Coast in 1990, to turn over a new leaf.
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Smith made her debut on the silver screen with the 1994 comedy ‘Twin Sitters.’ In 1996, Smith was cast in a recurring role in ‘NBC’s comedy series ‘Boston Commons.’ By the end of the year, Smith found her place alongside Tom Arnold on ‘The Tom Show,’ which was on air between September 1997 and February 1998.
Between 1998 and 2006, Smith earned roles in several movies and TV films, such as ‘Chameleon II: Death Match’ (1999), ‘Playas Ball’ (2003), ‘The Whole Ten Yards’ (2004), ‘Miles From Home’ (2006), ‘ATL’ (2006), and ‘Glass House: The Good Mother’ (2006).
Some of her more popular movies were released between 2007 and 2010. In 2007, she appeared in Tyler Perry’s romantic comedy ‘Daddy’s Little Girls,’ which featured her as the primary antagonist, ‘Jennifer Jackson.’ The film also starred Idris Elba and Gabrielle Union. This movie marked the beginning of her association with Perry, and the two of them have continued to work together since then.
In 2007, she also acted in Perry’s second romantic comedy, ‘Why Did I Get Married?,’ and when it was time for the sequel in 2010, Smith was an obvious choice for ‘Why Did I Get Married Too?’ The movies were made into a TV series, ‘For Better or Worse,’ in 2011, where Smith played the role of ‘Angela Williams,’ as in the movies. She was part of all the 162 episodes of the series and earned major nominations for her performance.
Smith has made guest appearances in a significant number of TV series throughout her career and continues to do so. ‘Chicago Hope’ (1997), ‘The Corner’ (2000), ‘The Parkers’ (2001), ‘Without a Trace’ (2003), ‘Nip/ Tuck’ (2004), ‘Girlfriends’ (2005), ‘The Game’ (2009), ‘Power’ (2015), ‘Star’ (2016), and ‘Daytime Divas’ (2017) are some of the series that have featured her as a guest star.
Smith’s dream to direct films became a reality in 2015, with her directorial debut, ‘Boxed In,’ which premiered at the 19th annual ‘American Black Film Festival.’ Smith has directed other movies since then. In 2017 she directed a TV film named ‘When Love Kills: The Falicia Blakely Story.’ The movie was a huge success, with its premiere scoring 1.6 million views. It held the record of attaining the maximum premiere views by any ‘TV One’ original movie.
In 2017, Smith directed an episode of ‘Tales,’ a drama anthology on ‘BET.’
She has produced the shorts ‘Boxed’ and ‘Tisha Campbell-Martin: Steel Here’ and the TV movie ‘When Love Kills: The Falicia Blakely Story.’
Smith has been associated some great projects as an actor and a director. However, the Tyler Perry projects remain the longest associations of her acting career. Not only did she leave a mark with the movies ‘Why Did I Get Married?’ and ‘Why Did I Get Married Too?’ but she also appeared in the TV series ‘For Better or Worse’ for 6 years, which is the longest role she has played so far.
The ‘Fox’ musical drama ‘Empire,’ which started in 2015, and remains to be an ongoing show, has also helped her earn love and recognition from a global audience.
Family & Personal Life
In 2010, Smith married her boyfriend and manager Keith Douglas.
In 2014, she appealed for a restraining order against Douglas. While Douglas brought charges of an extramarital affair against Smith, Smith claimed she had been deceived by Douglas, who had suppressed information about his previous marriages and children. Apparently, he had been married five times before. Their marriage was annulled in 2015.
Smith, who identified as an atheist in her early days, became a Christian devotee in her late 20s. She claims that while her father was severely ill, she was constantly seeking spiritual guidance, and in those difficult times, she says, “God really showed up and met me where I was."