Proving that versatility is as important as skill in the acting profession, Jimmy Smits has built a career that allows him to move effortlessly between film, television and stage. The Emmy Award and Golden Globe winning actor continues to effectively navigate towards his goal of making quality television and film, having recently added producing to his list of accomplishments.
Smits' El Sendero Productions co-executive produced the recent CBS series, "Cane," in which he also starred. While the show was slowly emerging as a commercial success, it was critically acclaimed for its cutting edge and dramatic reflection of the family dynamic within a modern day Cuban-American family.
Smits' filmography includes such early works as Peter Hyams' "Running Scared" with Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal; John Schlesinger's "The Believers;" "Old Gringo" with Gregory Peck and Jane Fonda; Blake Edwards' comedy "Switch;" and the critically acclaimed "My Family/Mi Familia," directed by Gregory Nava, for which he received an IFP Spirit Award nomination. Smits' later works include Carlos Ávila's "Price of Glory;" Chuck Russell's thriller "Bless the Child;" George Lucas' "Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones" and "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith," and Robin Swicord's "The Jane Austen Book Club."
Smits has a special fondness for the theater, having been born close to Broadway, the home of New York theatre. His introduction into acting was the theater and it always calls to his heart to return home. He starred on Broadway in 2004 as the romantic new arrival in a Cuban-American cigar factory in Nilo Cruz's Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Anna in the Tropics," proceeded by New York Public Theatre's "Shakespeare in the Park" presentations of "Much Ado About Nothing" (2004) and "Twelfth Night" (2002), as well as a number of off-Broadway and regional theatre productions. Taking his dedication to the arts to the next level, he is also an active member of the New York Public Theater's Board of Directors.
In addition to his work on the stage and on the screen, Smits has enjoyed an exemplary television career. In 2006, Smits completed his role in the long-running and critically-acclaimed NBC series "The West Wing." As President Matthew Santos, Smits brought to the show his own infusion of energy and added even more depth to the well-written and politically relevant plot line. Smits was also seen in HBO's multiple award-winning television movie "Lackawanna Blues," George C. Wolfe's colorful tale of boarding house life, love and blues in 1950's New York. Other television credits include "The Broken Cord," "The Tommyknockers," "The Cisco Kid" and "Marshal Law."
He received six consecutive Emmy nominations for his role as Victor Sifuentes on "L.A. Law," winning the Emmy in 1990, and also five Emmy nominations for his role as Bobby Simone on the critically acclaimed, Emmy-winning drama, "NYPD Blue." Additionally, he received an ALMA Award and an Imagen Award for Best Actor in "West Wing," has four Golden Globe nominations - winning as an Actor in a Leading Role, Drama Series, in 1996 for his role in "NYPD Blue" - and eight SAG Award nominations. His highly touted departure from "NYPD Blue" also won the Humanitas Award.
A second generation American, Smits is a native of Brooklyn and traces his roots to Puerto Rico as well as Surinam, South America on his mother's and father's sides of the family, respectively.
In his free time, Smits has involved himself in various charitable organizations over the years and has consistently been a strong advocate for education. In 1997, he co-founded the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts (NHFA), along with actors Esai Morales and Sonia Braga and Washington attorney Felix Sanchez, to promote Hispanic talent in the performing arts. The organization, which just celebrated its 10th Anniversary, offers graduate scholarships and cash grants at prominent colleges and universities in order to expand career opportunities and increase access for Hispanic artists and professionals while fostering the emergence of new Hispanic talent. Other organizations Smits is involved with include Red Cross, New York Cares, Colorectal Cancer, St. Jude's Foundation, The Fulfillment Fund, United Way and more.