Birth Name: Jurnee Diana Smollett
Place of Birth: New York City, New York, U.S.
Date of Birth: October 1, 1986
*Ashkenazi Jewish (father)
*African-American, possibly other (mother)
Jurnee Smollett-Bell, also credited as Jurnee Smollett, is an American actress. She is known for starring as Samantha Booke in the film The Great Debaters, among other roles. She is the daughter of Janet (Harris) and Joel Smollett. Her siblings include Jojo Smollett, Jazz Smollett, Jussie Smollett, Jake Smollett, and Jocqui Smollett, all of whom have been involved in the entertainment business.
Jurnee’s father, who was white, was Ashkenazi Jewish (from a family from Romania, Russia, and Poland). The family surname was Smolovitz several generations back.
Jurnee’s mother is black.
Jurnee stated in an interview that, aside from African-American, their mother has Native American, Louisiana Creole, and Irish ancestry. It is not clear if this is accurate.
Jurnee is married to musician Josiah Bell, with whom she has a son.
Jurnee’s paternal grandfather was Peter Smollett (the son of David Lewis Smolovitz/Smollett and Dawley/Dawlly Levy). Peter was born in New York. David was a Romanian Jewish emigrant, born in Iași, Iași County, the son of Jacob Smolovitz/Smilowitz/Smollett and Rebecca Moscowitz. Dawley was born in New York, to Polish Jewish parents, Charles D. Levy and Esty/Betsy Cohen.
Jurnee’s paternal grandmother is Molly/Mollie Hirschenson (the son of Irving I. Hirschenson and Gertrude Horowitz). Molly was born in New York. Irving was the son of Jeremiah Hirschenson and Sarah Heller. Gertrude was the daughter of Louis Horowitz and Anna Lupin.
Jurnee’s maternal grandfather was named John Harris.
Jurnee’s maternal grandmother was named Grace/Raphel Smith.
Sources: Interview where Jurnee mentions her background – http://www.tsdmemphis.com
Jurnee’s paternal grandfather, Peter Smollett, on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org
Obituary of Jurnee’s paternal grandfather, Peter Smollett – https://www.genealogiequebec.com
Marriage record of Jurnee’s paternal great-grandparents, David Lewis Smolovitz/Smollett and Dawley/Dawlly Levy – https://www.familysearch.org
Jurnee’s paternal great-grandfather, David Lewis Smolovitz/Smollett, on the 1920 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org