Janet Smollett bio: Who is the matriarch of the Smollett family? 

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Janet Smollett is known for being the mother of Jussie, Jojo, Jake, Jocqui, Jurnee, and Jazz Smollett. She is an iconic woman who has supported her kids throughout their careers in the entertainment industry.

Janet Smollett

Here is all you need to know about the matriarch of the Smollett clan.

Profile summary

  • Birth name: Janet Harris
  • Date of birth: November 27, 1952
  • Age: 68 years old (as of 2020)
  • Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Nationality: American
  • Height: 5 feet 6 inches
  • Weight: 51 kg
  • Zodiac sign: Sagittarius
  • Ethnicity: Afro-American
  • Eye colour: Brown

Janet Smollett biography

Janet Harris Smollett was born on November 27, 1952, in New Orleans, Louisiana. As of 2020, she is 68 years old.

Details about Janet Smollett mother, father, or siblings is not in the public domain.


Jussie told the New York Times that his mother, Janet, campaigned for civil rights with his father, Joel, in the Bay Area (where they met), saying,

“My mom was in the movement with Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, and one of her first mentors was Julian Bond. To this day, Angela Davis is one of her dearest friends. We’ve spent Mother’s Day with Angela.”Janet’s devotion to being an activist for causes that she found important permeated into her children, who speak out for causes like HIV/AIDS prevention, ending apartheid, and the Black Lives Matter movement.


Marriage life: Who was Janet Smollett husband?

Joel Smollett and Janet Smollett first met while they were working for black civil rights. Janet was working for political activists Huey Newton and Bobby Seale at that time.

Although it is not known exactly when Janet Smollett wedding took place, it is known that the couple loved each other deeply and devoted their lives to giving their children a good education.

Joel and Janet Smollett were happily married until Joel lost his battle to cancer on January 7, 2015. Joel was a supporting father, a loving husband, and an inspiration for his kids.

Janet Smollett children

Janet and Joel Smollett’s six children are all in the public eye.

Jojo Smollett


Jojo was born on August 28, 1977, in California. He is the first son of Joel and Janet.

Jojo is an actor and producer. He is famous for his works in movies and TV shows like City of Hope (1991), The Practice (1991), and Roseanne (1988).

Jojo has appeared in the show On Our Own with his siblings.

Jazz Smollett


Jazz, born on April 1, 1980, is an actress and producer. In 1994, Jazz first stepped into the entertainment world with a role in the family sitcom On Our Own.

As the eldest sister in her family, she has helped her parents raise her siblings.

Jazz has been married to producer Troy Warwell since 2012. The couple has a baby daughter.

Jazz and Troy work together in the entertainment world. Jazz often assists her producer husband with his movie projects as a co-producer and an actress.

Jussie Smollett


Born on June 21, 1982, Jussie is an actor, photographer, and a singer by profession. He is known for his roles in productions like Empire, The Mighty Ducks, and Allen Covenant.

Jurnee Smollett


Jurnee is an actress best known for her TV roles in True Blood, Parenthood, and Underground.

She is the second daughter and fourth child of Joel and Janet, born on October 1, 1986. The American actress also began her career with the comedy show On Our Own along with her siblings.

Jake Smollett


Jake is also an actor. He was born on July 29, 1989, and has showcased his acting talent in movies like Eve’s Bayou (1997), The Middleman (2008) and On Our Own (1994).

Jocqui Smollett


Jocqui, born on August 2, 1994, is the youngest sibling of the Smollett family. He is known for playing the role of Jarreau Jerrico in On Our Own.

He came back to the industry with the television show Smollett Eats in 2016. Jocqui is also a technologist and the founder of Hosted Incorporation.

Janet’s role in her children’s success

In an interview that Jussie and Jurnee did with the New York Times in 2016, they opened up about how their mother encouraged creativity in their home, remembering how “everyone would have to get up and sing” for birthdays and Mother’s Days.

They also revealed that they consider their mother to be their “only acting coach,” in part because of the classic films she exposed them to as they grew up.

According to BillboardJussie revealed that Janet remains invested in his acting career as a fan of Empire, saying

“She calls me every single Wednesday and I know that we have to stay on the phone at least for 30 minutes to an hour of just hearing her break down what Cookie did, what the brothers did, which song was her favourite, you know? So, yeah, it’s fun. It’s good fun.”


The family cookbook – The Family Table

Jazz, Jake, Jurnee, and Jussie published a cookbook in 2018, entitled The Family Table: Recipes and Moments From a Nomadic Life, in honour of the food-centric traditions their mother made sure her family upheld even though their family moved 13 times across the US.

The cookbook’s description reflects on Janet’s efforts to keep her family connected through shared meals:

But no matter where they lived, two things remained constant: their incredible family feasts and the long, wooden kitchen table where they shared food and lived their lives. Each time they arrived in a new home, their mother would transform planks of hard wood into a smooth, varnished butcher block table in a beloved ritual that took three days. That hand-crafted table would become the heart of the Smollett clan, where the most important and cherished events and accomplishments, no matter how large or small, were honored, and where holidays were celebrated: Christmas, Easter, Passover, Chanukah, birthdays, milestones. With a mother from New Orleans and a Jewish father from New York who met and married in California, the Smollett kids were exposed to diverse culinary heritages and grew up open to all the deliciousness the world had to offer.As the matriarch of the Smollett family, Janet Smollet has done a great job of ensuring that her kids’ talents were properly utilized, right from when they were just children. Today, her children are some of the biggest names in the Hollywood entertainment industry.

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