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Jimmy Smits
Jimmy Smits by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Smits in 2016
Born (1955-07-09) July 9, 1955 (age 66)
EducationBrooklyn College (BA)
Cornell University (MFA)
Years active1984–present
Known forLA Law
Star Wars
The West Wing
Barbara Smits
(m. 1981; div. 1987)
Partner(s)Wanda De Jesus (1986–present)

Jimmy L. Smits (born July 9, 1955) is an American actor. He is best known for playing attorney Victor Sifuentes on the 1980s-1990s legal drama L.A. Law, NYPD Detective Bobby Simone on the 1990s-2000s police drama NYPD Blue, Matt Santos on the political drama The West Wing, and for appearing in Switch (1991), My Family (1995), and as ADA Miguel Prado in Dexter. He also appeared as Bail Organa in the Star Wars prequel trilogy and Rogue One. From 2012 to 2014, he joined the main cast of Sons of Anarchy as Nero Padilla. Smits also portrayed Elijah Strait in the NBC drama series Bluff City Law.

Early life

Smits was born in Brooklyn, New York. Smits's father, Cornelis Leendert Smits (1929–2015), was from Paramaribo, Suriname, and was of Dutch descent.[1][2][3] Smits's mother, Emilina (née Pola; 1930–2015), was Puerto Rican, born in Peñuelas.[4][5] He and his two sisters, Yvonne and Diana, grew up in a working-class neighborhood.[6][7] At ten years old, he began living in Puerto Rico for a couple of years. Until then, he did not speak Spanish. He described attending a Spanish-only school as "jarring" and "traumatic."[8]

Smits was raised in a strict, devout Roman Catholic family. He identifies as Puerto Rican[6][7][9] and frequently visits Puerto Rico.


Smits was an athlete in his youth. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School. He earned a bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College in 1980 and an MFA from Cornell University in 1982.[10]


Smits at the 39th Annual Emmy Awards in 1987
Smits at the 39th Annual Emmy Awards in 1987

One of Smits's early roles was as Sonny Crockett's original partner on the first episode of Miami Vice in 1984, where he falls victim to a car bomb in the episode's first five minutes.

Beginning in 1986, Smits played Victor Sifuentes in the first five seasons of the NBC television Steven Bochco legal drama L.A. Law,[11] for which he was nominated for six Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, winning in 1990.[12]

Additionally, Smits played a repairman on Pee-wee's Playhouse, and he starred in the multigenerational story of a Chicano family in the film My Family (1995), alongside Edward James Olmos and Jennifer Lopez.

One of Smits's most acclaimed roles was that of Detective Bobby Simone on the ABC television program NYPD Blue, in which he starred from 1994 to 1998. He received several Emmy nominations for his performance on the series and was reunited with his former co-star Dennis Franz at the 2016 Emmy Awards presentation. He won the ALMA award twice.

In 1999, Smits received the HOLA Award for Excellence from the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA).

Smits in 2000
Smits in 2000

Smits was scheduled to host the 2001 Latin Grammy Awards broadcast on September 11, 2001. It was canceled due to continuous news coverage and out of respect for the victims of the terrorist attacks earlier that day. He did host a non-televised press conference to announce the winners.

Smits appeared as Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005), in which the character becomes Princess Leia's adoptive father. He reappeared as Bail Organa in the game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (2008) and the spinoff movie Rogue One (2016).

Smits played the role of Congressman Matt Santos of Houston, Texas, in the final two seasons of the NBC television drama The West Wing,[13] joining fellow L.A. Law alumnus John Spencer. His character eventually ran for and won the U.S. presidency.

In Dexter season 3, Smits played the role of Miguel Prado, an assistant district attorney who befriends the title character.[14] Smits was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for the role.

Additionally, Smits portrayed the character Alex Vega in the CBS TV series Cane, which aired from September 25, 2007, to December 18, 2007, and was subsequently canceled by the network due to the 2007 Screen Writer's Guild strike.

Smits joined the Sons of Anarchy cast in season 5 as Nero Padilla, a high-level pimp who refers to himself as a "companionator". He builds a relationship with Gemma Teller Morrow (Katey Sagal) and forms an alliance and mentorship with Gemma's son, the central character Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam).[15]

Smits starred in The Get Down, a musical drama television series which debuted in 2016 on Netflix.[16]

In 2016, Smits returned to his role as Senator Bail Organa in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.[17]

On February 25, 2019, news outlets reported that Smits was cast as Elijah Strait in NBC drama series Bluff City Law[18] and it was ordered straight to series on May 6, 2019.[19] Bluff City Law brings Smits back to TV courtrooms on a steady basis for the first time in over a quarter century since his role in L.A. Law.[20]

In 2021, Smits played Kevin Rosario in the musical film In the Heights.[21]

Stage performances

Smits at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival
Smits at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival

In the mid-1980s, Smits acted in numerous performances at the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, New York, Cornell's summer repertory program. In 1982 at the Hangar his roles included Max in Cabaret, Paul in Loose Ends, and the lead in Pudd'nhead Wilson. Smits has participated in the Public Theater's New York Shakespeare Festival, playing the role of Duke Orsino in Twelfth Night in 2002 and Benedick in 'Much Ado about Nothing in 2004. In 2003, Smits starred in the Broadway production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Anna in the Tropics, by Nilo Cruz, performed at the Royale Theatre. From November 2009 to February 2010, he appeared opposite Christine Lahti, Annie Potts, and Ken Stott in the critically lauded Broadway play God of Carnage, replacing Jeff Daniels. In December 2012 through March 2013, he appeared in Chicago in The Motherfucker with the Hat, at Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

Personal life

Smits was married to high school sweetheart, Barbara Smits, from 1981 until 1987. They have two children, Taina (born in 1975) and Joaquin (born in 1983). Since 1986, he has been in a relationship with actress Wanda De Jesus; they live together in Los Angeles.[10]

Smits was arrested in 1987 for assaulting an officer after police answered a call for help at his home. His girlfriend De Jesus falsely identified herself as Juanita Cruz and began to attack the officers questioning her, Smits joined in and both were arrested for battery on the police officers who responded to the call.[22] The charges were later dropped because of conflicting witness statements. He later pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor of disturbing the peace and was sentenced to 18 months of unsupervised probation, 50 hours of community service and a $150 fine. De Jesus pleaded guilty to misidentifying herself to a police officer and disturbing the peace. She was fined $250 and sentenced to 18 months of unsupervised probation and 75 hours of community service.[23]

On June 4, 2021, he was awarded the 2,696th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Charity work and public service

Smits helped found the National Hispanic Foundation for the Artsy [24][25] to advance the presence of Latinos in the media, telecommunications, and entertainment industries. He is also an advocate for diagnostic colorectal screening and has appeared in a public service commercial.[26] In 2010, he filmed a PSA for Detroit Non-Profit Cass Community Social Services[27] and also served as the Honorary Chair of their 6th Annual "Catch the Fireworks With Cass" event.[28]

Smits has also donated to several other organizations, including the Red Cross, New York Cares, and Stand up to Cancer.



Year Title Role Notes
1986 Running Scared Julio Gonzales
1987 Hotshot Stars Team Member
1987 The Believers Tom Lopez
1989 Old Gringo Gen. Tomas Arroyo
1990 Vital Signs Dr. David Redding
1991 Switch Walter Stone
1991 Fires Within Nestor
1993 Gross Misconduct Justin Thorne
1994 The Cisco Kid Cisco Kid
1995 My Family Jimmy Sanchez
1995 The Last Word Actor (Martin)
1997 Murder in Mind Peter Walker
1997 Lesser Prophets Mike
2000 Adventures in Wild California Narrator
2000 The Million Dollar Hotel Geronimo
2000 Price of Glory Arturo Ortega
2000 Bless the Child Agent John Travis
2002 Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones Senator Bail Organa
2005 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
2007 The Jane Austen Book Club Daniel Avila
2009 Backyard Mickey Santos Also known as El Traspatio
2010 Mother and Child Paco
2016 Rogue One[29] Senator Bail Organa
2017 Who We Are Now Carl
2020 The Tax Collector Wizard
2021 In the Heights Kevin Rosario


Year Title Role Notes
1984 Miami Vice Eddie Rivera Episode: "Brother's Keeper"
1986 Rockabye 2nd Policeman Television film
1986–92 L.A. Law Victor Sifuentes Main role; 105 episodes
1986 Spenser: For Hire Hector Valdes Episode: "In a Safe Place"
1987 The Highwayman Bo Ziker Television film
1987 Stamp of a Killer Richard Braden Television film
1988 Mickey's 60th Birthday Victor Sifuentes Television film
1988 Glitz Vincent Marra Television film
1989 Pee-wee's Playhouse Johnny Wilson Episode: "Conky's Breakdown"
1990 Cop Rock Victor Sifuentes (uncredited) Episode: "Potts Don't Fail Me Now"
1992 The Broken Cord David Norwell Television film
1993 The Tommyknockers Jim 'Gard' Gardner 2 episodes
1994 The Cisco Kid Cisco Kid Television film
1994–98, 2004 NYPD Blue Detective Bobby Simone Main role; 90 episodes
1995 Solomon & Sheba King Solomon Television film
1995–97 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Prince Felipe, Old King Cole Voice; 2 episodes
1996 Marshal Law Jack Coleman Television film
2004–06 The West Wing Matt Santos Main role; 35 episodes
2005 Lackawanna Blues Ruben Santiago, Sr. Television film
2007 Cane Alex Vega 13 episodes
2008 Dexter Miguel Prado 12 episodes
2010 Outlaw Cyrus Garza Main role, 8 episodes
2012–14 Sons of Anarchy Neron 'Nero' Padilla 38 episodes
2016–17 The Get Down Francisco "Papa Fuerte" Cruz 11 episodes
2016–17 Brooklyn Nine-Nine Victor Santiago 2 episodes
2017 24: Legacy John Donovan 12 episodes
2017–18 How to Get Away with Murder Dr. Isaac Roa 13 episodes
2018 America's Untold Story Narrator Television film
2019 Bluff City Law Elijah Strait Main role, 10 episodes

Video games

Year Title Voice role Notes
2008 Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Senator Bail Organa
2016 Gears of War 4 Oscar Diaz

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1987 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series L.A. Law Nominated
1988 Nominated
1989 Nominated
1990 Won
Viewers for Quality Television Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Drama Series Nominated
1991 Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
1992 Nominated
1995 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series NYPD Blue Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Won
1996 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Television Series Drama Won
Independent Spirit Awards Best Male Lead My Family Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series NYPD Blue Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
1997 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Television Series Drama Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated
1998 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actor – Television Series Drama Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated
1999 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Television Series Drama Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actor – Television Series Drama Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated
2006 ALMA Awards Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series The West Wing Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated
2008 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series Cane Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Dexter Nominated
2009 ALMA Awards Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Guest Starring Role on Television Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated
2013 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series Sons of Anarchy Nominated
2014 Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
2015 Nominated

Smits also received the Ackerman Leadership Award for his work "championing bilingual and bicultural mental health and social services for Latino families."[30]

See also


  1. ^ "In Step With: Jimmy Smits". Parade Magazine. January 2, 2005. Archived from the original on January 17, 2006.
  2. ^ "Obituary of Cornelis Smits". Marine Park Funeral Home. 2015. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
  3. ^ Smith, Warren Allen (2011). In the Heart of Showbiz: A Biographical Triography of Variety Recording ... - Warren Allen Smith - Google Books. ISBN 9781257042524. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  4. ^ Taking Charge Through Education, by Jimmy Smits Archived November 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Obituary of Emelina Pola Smits". Marine Park Funeral Home. 2015. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Jimmy Smits – Redbook Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ a b "Education, Learning and Research Resources Online - Gale". Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  8. ^ Parsi, Novid (December 26, 2012). "Jimmy Smits Interview". Time Out Chicago. Time Out Group. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  9. ^ Hernandez, Lee (July 9, 2010). "EXCLUSIVE: Jimmy Smits on Playing Outlaws: "There Might Be An Ethnicity Thing to It"". Latina. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
  10. ^ a b "Jimmy Smits". Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  11. ^ McKENNA, KRISTINE (August 7, 1987). "Jimmy Smits: A Latino Look And Class Act On 'L.a. Law'". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  12. ^ "Jimmy Smits".
  13. ^ "The Jimmy Smits interview". POLITICO. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  14. ^ "Jimmy Smits Joins Dexter. Couldn't You Just Die?". TV Guide. June 5, 2008. Archived from the original on August 30, 2008.
  15. ^ Bill Keveney (October 1, 2012). "On 'Sons of Anarchy,' new faces and new fears". USA Today. Retrieved October 23, 2012.
  16. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (August 11, 2015). "Baz Luhrmann's Netflix Series 'The Get Down' To Take Production Hiatus". Deadline. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
  17. ^ "Jimmy Smits confirms Bail Organa is in Rogue One". August 7, 2016.
  18. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 25, 2019). "Jimmy Smits To Star In NBC Legal Drama Pilot 'Bluff City Law'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  19. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (May 6, 2019). "Drama 'Bluff City Law' Starring Jimmy Smits & Kal Penn Comedy 'Sunnyside' Picked Up To Series By NBC". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  20. ^ Huver, Scott (September 20, 2019). "Jimmy Smits returns to the TV courtroom". CNN. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  21. ^ Sanders, Hosea; Jordan, Marsha (June 8, 2021). "Lin Manuel Miranda's 'In The Heights' movie stars veteran actors Jimmy Smits, Olga Merediz". abc7chicago. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  22. ^ Frederick M. Muir, Los Angeles Times, 'L.A. Law' Star Smits Arrested in Alleged Attack on 3 Officers, August 12, 1987
  23. ^ Associated Press, 'L.A. Law' Star Jimmy Smits Pleads No Contest, November 25, 1987
  24. ^ "Mission Statement".
  25. ^ Guadalupe, Patricia (October 7, 2015). "Hispanic Arts Gala Awards Latino Talent, Pushes for Greater Numbers". NBC News. Retrieved April 13, 2016.
  26. ^ "Colorectal Cancer | Cancer Screening and Prevention | Health & Senior Services". Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  27. ^ Catch the Fireworks With Cass 10'- Jimmy Smits PSA, retrieved March 2, 2021
  28. ^ "6TH Annual Catch the Fireworks with Cass". Hour Detroit. Retrieved April 13, 2016.
  29. ^ Robinson, Will (August 5, 2016). "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: Jimmy Smits confirms he has a cameo". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
  30. ^ "Jimmy Smits: Accomplished Actor, And Tireless Latino Advocate". NBC News. Retrieved May 1, 2018.

External links

This page was last edited on 22 November 2021, at 21:14
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