The Bernie Mac Show
“I'm the kind of girl who doesn't have a problem dressing sexy and showing cleavage and legs and back. I like feeling sensual and sexy. I like being a female.” Kellita Smith
Actress Kellita Smith first gained kudos on stage with her supporting role in the Hudson Theatre production of “Feelings” (1996), in which she won a NAACP Theatre Award. The same year, she also earned a NAACP nomination for starring in the play “The Thirteenth Thorn.” Smith eventually received widespread notice for her acting on the Fox popular series “The Bernie Mac Show” (2001-2006). As the no-nonsense, career-focused mother and wife Wanda, she took home four Image nominations and two BET Comedy nominations. Smith has also had recurring roles on Fox's “Martin” (1994-1995), “Sister, Sister” (1995), UPN's “Malcolm and Eddie” (1997) and the WB's “Jamie Foxx Show” (1997-1999) and guest starred in such shows as “Living Single,” “Moesha,” “The Steve Harvey Show,” “Nash Bridges” and “NYPD Blue.”
On the movie front, Smith scored a huge break in 1995 with Sean Penn's “The Crossing Guard.” She also acted in “Kingdom Come” (2001), “Hair Show” (2004), “King’s Ransom” (2005), “Roll Bounce” (2005), “Fair Game” (2005), “Feel the Noise” and “Three Can Play That Game” (2007).
Smith has been featured in a number of magazines, including Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, People, Glamour, Savoy, Stuff, TV Guide, Esquire, Black Men, Emmy, Fitness, Jet, Today's Black Woman, and Essence.
Smith is the owner of Strange Fruit, a production company she formed in 2001.
Chicago to Oakland
Childhood and Family:
The eldest of two children, Kellita Smith was born in 1969 in Chicago, Illinois. Shortly after her birth, her father, who was in the military and served in Vietnam, was away from home for 18 months. In 1972, a short time after he returned from duty, Kellita's parents divorced and she and her brother Eric relocated to Oakland, California, to live with their mother. Along with her brother, Kellita was educated at the Oakland Community Learning Center, a historic learning facility established by the Black Panthers. In 1989, she graduated from Santa Rosa Junior College with a degree in political science. She later attended an acting workshop.
Kellita Smith got her acting start on stage in 1990 when she landed a part in the play “Tell It Like It Tiz,” which toured the country for two years. She further demonstrated her talent in productions like “No Place to be Somebody” for the KC Theatre Company, “Feelings” for the Hudson Theatre, in which she netted a 1996 NAACP Theatre award for Best Supporting Actress, and “The Thirteenth Thorn” for the Complex Theatre.
While gaining ground on stage, Smith also tried her luck on the small screen. After making her debut in an episode of Fox's “Living Single” (1993), she landed a recurring role in the Martin Lawrence comedy series “Martin,” where she portrayed Tracy from 1994 to 1995. She then received the recurring role of Tonya on the series “Sister, Sister” in 1995. It was also in 1995 that Smith first appeared on the big screen when she landed a small part in the Sean Penn directed/written psychological drama “The Crossing Guard,” which starred Jack Nicholson, David Morse and Anjelica Huston.
Smith received guest spots in series like “The Wayans Bros.” (1996), “Dangerous Minds” (1996), “Moesha” (1996), “High Incident” (1997) and “The Parent 'Hood” (1997). She was also cast in the recurring role of Danielle on the UPN series “Malcolm and Eddie” (1997). However, it was her five episode role of Cherise, a love interest to Jamie Foxx's character Jamie King, in the WB series “The Jamie Foxx Show” (1997-1999) that earned the actress notice. After leaving the show, she appeared as Ava Whitley in an episode of “The Steve Harvey Show” (1999), Valerie Maxwell in an episode of “The Parkers” (1999) and Sophia in “For Your Love.”
Returning to film, Smith supported Anthony Winters and Nikki Crawford in 2000's “Retiring Tatiana,” a comedy directed by Thom Steinhoff and written by Anthony Winters. She next had a small part opposite LL Cool J, Jada Pinkett Smith, Vivica A. Fox and Loretta Devine in the drama “Kingdom Come” (2001). Meanwhile, on the small screen, she made her TV movie debut in the based-on-novel “Masquerade” (2000), alongside Simbi Khali and Cress Williams.
Following guest appearances in “Nash Bridges” and “NYPD Blue” (both 2001), Smith's TV career received a huge boost when she won the role of Wanda McCullough, the no-nonsense, career-minded wife and mother in “The Bernie Mac Show,” which ran on the Fox network from 2001 to 2006. Starring opposite Bernie Mac as her character's husband, she was nominated for three consecutive Image awards from 2003 to 2005 in the category of Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series and in 2006 nabbed another nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She also picked up BET Comedy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 2005 and 2006.
Apart from her hectic TV schedule, in 2004 Smith costarred with Mo'Nique and Gina Torres in the low budget indie comedy “Hair Show.” She then played Cheryl in the Michael Whaley drama “Fair Game” (2005), was cast as the calculating wife of a millionaire (played by Anthony Anderson) in “King’s Ransom” (2005) and appeared with Bow Wow, Brandon T. Jackson, Marcus T. Paulk and Rick Gonzalez in Malcolm D. Lee's “Roll Bounce” (2005).
After “The Bernie Mac Show” came to an end, Smith was featured as Tanya in the pilot “Feel the Noise” (2007). She also portrayed Carly in “Three Can Play That Game” (2007), which starring Vivica A. Fox and Jason Winston George, and will star in “Conspiracy X,” which is due to be released in 2010.
NAACP Theatre: Best Supporting Actress, “Feelings,” 1996