For a long time, Janet Smollett remained unknown outside of media attention but the success of her son, Jussie Smollett, whose breakthrough career came via the Fox Network show, Empire, which was then subsequently amplified with his false claims of racist attack, has resulted in her becoming one of the notable mothers in African American entertainment.
Janet Smollett has been a teacher and an inspiration to not only her son but mothers who have gotten to know more about her through her children. She is also a great cook whose recipes currently lie on the digital shelves of Amazon. Here is more about her and her family below.
Biography of Janet Smollett
Janet Smollett, the mother of several actors, was born on the 27th of November, 1952 in New Orleans, US. Much of her background is unknown and details of her life remain concealed. During her younger years, Janet Smollett was an active member of the US Civil Rights movement, campaigning and going on walks with other notable civil right fighters like Bobby Seale and Huey Newton.
After getting married to Joel Smollett, a Jewish man of Russian and Polish origins in California, Janet Smollett began on the project that would define her life. She and her husband gave birth to six children and they raised all of them together, although Joel was away from his children’s lives for a portion of their childhood.
Having spent a considerable portion of her life fighting for civil rights, she has impacted the desire and drive into her children, she has reflected in her children fighting for causes like Black Lives Matter and HIV/AIDS prevention.
Also revered as a great cook, who made it a point of duty to make home cooked meals in celebration of the family and its accomplishments, Janet Smollett, with the help of her children, has had her recipes published in a cookbook, which was released in 2018.
The cookbook, titled The Family Table: Recipes and Moments From a Nomadic Life features tales of her life and that of her family’s journey, which included living in thirteen states across the United States alongside her cooking recipes.
Perhaps most importantly, Janet Smollett is considered the first and primary acting coach of her children, having introduced them to different forms of performance arts, including acting, singing, and dancing. Janet introduced her children to professional acting when they were young and some of them have gone on to become known actors such as Jussie and Jurnee Smollett.
To say that Janet Smollett has lived the majority of her life in a big family would be fairly accurate. As the matriarch of the Smollett family, she is the mother to six children named – Jurnee, Jake, Jazz, Jocqui, Jojo and Jussie.
Jurnee Smollett who is the eldest child in the family is also an actress who has starred in projects like Parenthood, Underground, and True Blood. Jazz Smollett is part of a production company established by the two actors in the family, Jurnee and Jussie and she is also a published author, along with being a blogger and social media personality. Her younger brother, Jake is a chef, Jocqui works at a tech company while Jojo works at a non-profit.
The most popular of all her children, Jussie Smollett is an actor who has been acting since he was a child, starring in films like North and The Mighty Ducks. He achieved his fame through the show, Empire, where he played Jamal Lyon.
Apart from being an actor, Janet Smollett’s middle child, Jussie, is also a musician who has released a couple tracks and projects, like the EP, The Poisoned Hearts Club and singles like Hurt People, Freedom.
Other Facts About Janet Smollett
All of Janet Smollett’s children once starred in a sitcom, On Our Own. The ABC show only lasted one season between 1994 and 1995.
Her husband, Joel Smollett died as a result of cancer on the 7th of January, 2015.
Despite the vast rumors and social conspiracy that has suggested that she is related to US Senator Kamala Harris, Janet Smollett whose maiden name is Harris, is not in any way related to the US Senator.
While Jussie Smollett starred on Empire, Janet called him every Wednesday to talk about the show, including the songs and the actions of the characters on the show.