J. Smith-Cameron

Jean Isabel Smith (born September 7, 1957), credited professionally as J. Smith-Cameron, is an American actress. She spent a majority of her career in theatre but began transitioning to film and television later in life. She is known for her supporting roles as Janet Talbot on the television series Rectify and Gerri Kellman on Succession. For the latter, she received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2022.

J. Smith-Cameron
Rectify (18605054021) (cropped).jpg
Smith-Cameron in 2015
Jean Isabel Smith

(1957-09-07) September 7, 1957 (age 64)
Alma materFlorida State University
Years active1979–present
(m. 2000)

Early life and educationEdit

Jean Isabel Smith was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the daughter of architect Richard Sharp Smith and granddaughter of architect Richard Sharp Smith.[1] She was raised in Greenville, South Carolina.

She attended Florida State University for one year and was enrolled in its School of Theatre, where she met film director Victor Nuñez, who cast her as a lead in his film Gal Young 'Un (1979).[2] She additionally received acting training at HB Studio[3] in New York City.

She began being credited as "J. Smith" in college out of concern that her first name, Jeannie, was too girlish,[4] and added a family name, Cameron, when told by the Actors' Equity Association that there was already a J. Smith, and there was a rule that two actors cannot have the same professional name.[5]


She made her Broadway debut in August 1982 when she replaced Mia Dillon as "Babe Botrelle" in Crimes of the Heart.[6][7][8] She appeared in the original Broadway cast of Lend Me a Tenor as "Maggie" in 1989.[9] The cast of that play won an Outer Critics Circle Award, Special Awards.[10] She appeared in the Broadway production of Our Country's Good in 1991.[11]

Additional Broadway credits include Night Must Fall (1999),[12] Tartuffe (2002),[13] and After the Night and the Music (2005).[14]

She has appeared in many Off-Broadway plays, including at the Public Theater, the Second Stage Theatre, and Playwrights Horizons.[15] She appeared in the Paul Rudnick play The Naked Truth Off-Broadway at the WPA Theatre in 1994.[16] She received a Drama Desk Award nomination for this production.[17]

In November 1999 through April 2000, she appeared in Fuddy Meers as Claire at New York City Center, Stage II, for which she received a nomination for the Outer Critics Circle Award as Outstanding Actress in a Play.[18] In March through June 2004, she appeared in the Manhattan Theatre Club Off-Broadway production of Sarah, Sarah.[19] In November through December 2009, she appeared Off-Broadway at the Acorn Theatre in her husband Kenneth Lonergan's play The Starry Messenger.[7] From October 2013 to December 2013, she starred in the Off-Broadway Irish Repertory Theater production of Juno and the Paycock as Juno Boyle. The New York Times reviewer wrote: "In one of the finest performances of her distinguished career on the New York stage, Ms. Smith-Cameron imbues her Juno with a steely pragmatism, but more important an emotional pliancy that makes her more prepared than the rest of her clan to beat back the onslaughts of ill fortune that beset them."[20]

Smith-Cameron began transitioning to more film and television roles later in her life to focus on her family life.[21] She played Janet Talbot, the mother of a death row inmate, in Sundance TV's Rectify for four seasons.[21] She has played lawyer Gerri Kellman, a role originally written for a man, on the HBO series Succession since 2018.[22]

She won an Obie Award for the Off-Broadway Drama Department production As Bees in Honey Drown (1997), which also earned her a Drama Desk nomination[23] and Outer Critics Circle Award nomination, Outstanding Actress In A Play.[24] Additional nominations include the Drama Desk Award for Sarah, Sarah (2004)[25] and the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in the play Our Country's Good.[26]

Personal lifeEdit

Smith-Cameron is married to playwright, screenwriter, and film director Kenneth Lonergan. They have one daughter, Nellie.[5][4]


  Denotes works that have not yet been released


Title Year Role Note
Gal Young Un 1979 Elly
84 Charing Cross Road 1987 Ginny [27]
That Night 1992 Carol Bloom
Jeffrey 1995 Sharon
Mighty Aphrodite 1995 Bud's Wife [28]
A Modern Affair 1995 Diane
Let It Be Me 1995 Clarice
Sabrina 1995 Carol [29]
Harriet the Spy 1996 Mrs. Welsch [30]
The First Wives Club 1996 Miss Sullivan [31]
The Proprietor 1996 New York - Texans
Arresting Gena 1997 Caroline Lee
In & Out 1997 Trina Paxton [32]
The Rage: Carrie 2 1999 Barbara Lang
You Can Count on Me 2000 Mabel [33]
Bittersweet Place 2005 Violet
A Very Serious Person 2006 Carol
Margaret 2011 Joan Cohen [34]
Man on a Ledge 2012 Psychiatrist
Like Sunday, Like Rain 2014 Mary
Christine 2016 Peg Chubbuck
No Pay, Nudity 2016 Debra
Nancy 2018 Ellen Lynch
Vengeance 2022 Sharon
Turtles All the Way Down   TBA Professor Abbott Post-production


Sources: The New York Times[35][36]

Title Year Role Note
Guiding Light 1984–1985 Nancy Ferris Unknown episodes
The Equalizer 1985, 1988, 1989 Various 3 episodes
H.E.L.P. 1990 Mrs. Perry Episode: "Fire Down Below"
The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd 1990–1991 Ramona Luchesse 12 episodes
Homicide: Life on the Street 1996 Avis Griffin Episode: "Sniper: Part 2"
Spin City 1996 Lisa Episode: "The Competition"
Law & Order 1998, 2001,
2003, 2009
Various 4 episodes
American Experience 1998 Mrs. Howard Episode: "A Midwife's Tale"
Law & Order: Criminal Intent 2001, 2007 Various 2 episodes
K Street 2003 Tommy's Wife 3 episodes
Six Degrees 2007 Maggie Newton 2 episodes
Canterbury's Law 2008 Elissa Shapiro Episode: "Sweet Sixteen"
The Big C 2010 Vivian Episode: "Playing the Cancer Card"
True Blood 2010–2011[37] Melinda Mickens 9 episodes
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit 2011 Diane Eskas Episode: "Educated Guess"
Rectify 2013–2016 Janet Talbot 30 episodes
Madam Secretary 2014 Alice Millevoi Episode: "Collateral Damage"
The Good Wife 2015 Samara Steel Episode: "Restraint"
Divorce 2016–2018 Elaine Campbell 3 episodes
Search Party 2017–2020 Mary Ferguson 7 episodes
Mozart in the Jungle 2018 Amy Rutledge Episode: "If I Was an Elf, I Would Tell You"
Succession 2018–present Gerri Kellman Series regular


  1. ^ @j_smithcameron (11 December 2019). "@cameron64801772 @Variety Both my dad and grandad were architects named Richard Sharp Smith (I and II)— how are we related?!😯🙂" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  2. ^ "Gal Young 'Un Listing". TCM.com. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
  3. ^ "Alumni". hbstudio.org. HB Studio. Retrieved January 20, 2022.
  4. ^ a b Smith-Cameron, J. (November 15, 2021). "J. Smith-Cameron Knows What You're Thinking About Gerri". The New Yorker (Interview). Interviewed by Rachel Syme. New York: Condé Nast. Retrieved December 9, 2021.
  5. ^ a b Vellela, Tony (October 5, 2001). "Smith-Cameron's role-changing, name-changing career". The Christian Science Monitor. p. 18. She and Lonergan are expecting their first child in late January.
  6. ^ Lawson, Carol. "Broadway:Musical 'Baby' is on the way, story of 3 1/2 couples", The New York Times, July 30, 1982, p.C2
  7. ^ a b Kaye, Kimberly (December 9, 2009). "What's Up, J. Smith-Cameron? The Starry Star on Life, Art and Why She Loves Ben Brantley". broadway.com.
  8. ^ " Crimes of the Heart see Replacement page" ibdb.com, accessed January 19, 2014
  9. ^ Rich, Frank. "Reviews/Theater; When One Tenor Is Much Like Another" The New York Times, March 3, 1989.
  10. ^ "Award Archives, 198801989" Archived 2014-02-01 at the Wayback Machine outercritics.org, accessed January 18, 2014
  11. ^ Rich, Frank. Review/Theater; Broadway Season's Last Drama Offers a Defense of Theater", The New York Times, April 30, 1991.
  12. ^ Jones, Kenneth and David, Lefkowitz. "Curtain Up on Broderick's 'Night Must Fall', Opening March 8 at Bway's Lyceum" Archived 2014-02-01 at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, March 5, 1999
  13. ^ Simonson, Robert. "Emerson, Smith-Cameron, Meisle Added to Bway 'Tartuffe' Cast" Archived 2014-02-01 at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, September 19, 2002
  14. ^ Sommer, Elyse (June 2, 2005). "A CurtainUp Review' 'After the Night and the Music'". Curtainup.com. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  15. ^ "J. Smith-Cameron". lortel.org. Internet Off-Broadway Database. Archived from the original on April 15, 2013. Retrieved April 28, 2012.
  16. ^ Kuchwara, Michael. " The Naked Truth Opens Off Broadway"[permanent dead link] apnewsarchive.com, June 16, 1994
  17. ^ "Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play – 'The Naked Truth' – J. – Smith Cameron". dramadesk.org. Archived from the original on 2014-02-02. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
  18. ^ "'Fuddy Meers'". lortel.org. Internet Off-Broadway Database. Archived from the original on 2012-05-27. Retrieved April 28, 2012.
  19. ^ Sommer, Elyse (March 28, 2004). "A CurtainUp Review' 'Sarah, Sarah'". Curtainup.com.
  20. ^ Isherwood, Charles (October 25, 2013). "Theater Review. J. Smith-Cameron Stars in 'Juno and the Paycock'". The New York Times.
  21. ^ a b Blake, Meredith (2021-10-15). "On 'Succession,' Gerri calls the shots. J. Smith-Cameron knows the feeling". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2021-10-16.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ Baker, Katie (2019-08-12). "It's a Woman's World: The True Heroes of 'Succession'". The Ringer. Retrieved 2019-08-27.
  23. ^ "'As Bees in Honey Drown'" Archived 2012-10-02 at the Wayback Machine Internet Off-Broadway Database, accessed April 28, 2012
  24. ^ Viagas, Robert and Lefkowitz, David. " 'Lion King' Roars With Six Outer Critics Circle Awards" Archived 2014-02-01 at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, April 27, 1998
  25. ^ "Outstanding Actress in a Play – 'Sarah, Sarah' – J. – Smith-Cameron" Archived 2014-02-02 at the Wayback Machine, dramadesk.org, accessed January 20, 2014.
  26. ^ Shirley, Don. " 'Saigon,' 'Rogers' Lead the Tony Pack : Awards: Though neither received consistently enthusiastic reviews, both shows garner 11 nominations", Los Angeles Times, May 7, 1991.
  27. ^ " 84 Charing Cross Road Cast" The New York Times, accessed January 20, 2014
  28. ^ " 'Mighty Aphrodite' Cast" movies.tvguide.com, accessed January 18, 2014
  29. ^ "Cast and Crew, 'Sabrina'" tcm.com, accessed April 28, 2012
  30. ^ "Cast and Crew, 'Harriet the Spy'" allmovie.com, accessed April 28, 2012
  31. ^ " The First Wives Club Cast" The New York Times, accessed January 20, 2014
  32. ^ "Cast and Crew, 'In and Out'" allmovie.com, accessed April 28, 2012
  33. ^ Levy, Emanuel. "Film Reviews. 'You Can Count on Me'" Variety, February 1, 2000
  34. ^ "'Margaret' Cast and Crew" allmovie.com, accessed April 28, 2012
  35. ^ "Filmography" The New York Times, accessed January 18, 2014
  36. ^ "Smith-Cameron Credits" tvguide.com, accessed January 18, 2014
  37. ^ Probst, Andy. "Alfre Woodard, J. Smith-Cameron To Join HBO's True Blood'" theatermania.com, December 15, 2009

External linksEdit