Jurnee Smollett-Bell

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.