Jurnee Smollett-Bell

Smollett-Bell in 2011, photo by s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

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 played Samantha Booke in the film The Great Debaters. 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 grandparents were John Harris and Grace/Raphel Smith.

Sources: Interview where Jurnee mentions her background – http://www.tsdmemphis.com

Genealogies of Jurnee Smollett-Bell – https://www.geni.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


Curious about ethnicity

52 Responses

  1. anakaren says:

    im sorry but her race is african american!!

    • fuzzybear44 says:

      African American isn’t actually a race either,it’s more our cultural Identity or heritage.Also no we are not the Negroid race either,that’s something a racist fool came up with.Everyone is part of the same race,Human

      • Mm says:

        African american is a term used to refer to african descendants from the united states. It’s better than the outdated term ‘negroid’ that you keep spewing all over this site.

        • fuzzybear44 says:


          ( It’s better than the outdated term ‘negroid’ that you keep spewing all over this site)

          Excuse me,I believe you have me confused with someone else.I always say African american is the cultural ID,as I did above.

    • Anna Rae says:

      Uh no, she’s half black and half white. Come on you can look at her and tell that she isn’t just black. Up and down this website I’ve heard people call every mix person just black. It’s retarded. Since when did black become the dominant race of everyone? How are you going to sit here and tell these people what they are and what they aren’t? Smh go to bed..

      • midori29 says:

        African American is mostly black but with admixture down the line. The article says her mother is African American, native American, Creole (which is still black) and Irish, I bet her mother is like 85%-90% African and like 10-15% other. if her mother was soooo exotic Jurnee would not look so black/African American.

        Black people always like to bring up races from centuries ago to add to themselves making them “oh soo exotic”

        • fuzzybear44 says:


          Well you can be 50% white,and still be AA.Also when it come to Creoles,DNA wise there’s no fix % with them.So it’s no telling what that mother is.Some of that black blood could come from the father,or maybe your right;who knows

        • Anasie says:

          Midori29 you’re on a website that details the ethnicity of celebrities…you’re complaining about her maternal racial identity…come on.

          Oh and why do black people like to make themselves “oh soo exotic”? If thats who you are then thats who you are.

  2. tomcics1 says:

    The picture shown here appears to me to be the picture of actress
    ‘Meta Golding’, not Jurnee Diana Smollett.

    Could this picture be wrong? Please see link below.


  3. Seba says:

    LOL! Now u see for years many of u assumed what u wanted too regarding her heritage! What’s the difference between her and any other celebrity of color that is whos roots have been identified???!!!! Ridiculous isn’t it!!!!! See how sily u sound arguing about ones heritage when its been proven!!!!

    • Mm says:

      exactly! People r so sad. Instead all this debate ‘oh there’s only one race, the human race’. people need to just except the fact that not everyone feels that way. We don’t have to be racist to be proud of who we are. Jurnee is biracial.

  4. roots says:

    so what makes her Malutto?? and Paula Patterson black??

    • Jessica-Tere says:

      I’m sorry did you mean Paula Patton? Anywhoo…..there is no difference here. When it comes to being mixed it’s all about how the person sees their own self and what they identify with.

  5. dvanilla says:

    She is very pretty!

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