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Who Is Jussie Smollett's Sister, Jurnee Smollett? Actress Finally Speaks Out About Her Brother

Photo: Jurnee: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock
Who Is Jussie Smollett's Sister, Jurnee Smollett? Actress Finally Speaks Out About Her Brother

Jurnee Smollett is a successful actress in her own right but she is also disgraced Empire star Jussie Smollett's younger sister. The 33-year-old Eve's Bayou star has finally opened up about her brother's legal trouble as well as taking time to promote her new HBO series. 

RELATED: Who Is Jussie Smollett's Ex-Boyfriend And Why Is He Threatening To Release Jussie's Sex Tape?

The entire Smollett family has worked in television at different times but Jurnee and Jussie are the two to go on to the greatest acting success as adults. Jussie Smollett's career was cut short after he was alleged to have staged a fake hate crime against himself in Chicago last year. His baby sister Jurnee, however, has made a splash in movies like Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey and roles on shows like True Blood. She's tight with Hollywood heavyweights like Shonda Rhimes and Ava DuVerney and they are working together to make the industry more equitable for women and people of color. Jurnee also recently spoke out about her brother's scandal.

Who is Jussie Smollett's sister, Jurnee Smollett?

Jurnee Smollett is the fourth of six siblings.

Jurnee Smollett has four brothers and a sister, including big brother Jussie who is four years older than her. All of the Smollet kids have acted at some point in their lives, and they even all starred on a show together in the 1990s. The family grew up in California, raised mainly by their mother Janet. Janet was a social justice activist when the kids were young, something that Jurnee has continued to do into adulthood. She has been active in the Black Lives Matter movement as well as HIV/AIDS activism. 

Jurnee Smollet supports and believes her brother Jussie Smollett.

Watching a sibling go through a very public trauma isn't easy for anyone. The Smollett family has stayed silent on what's been happening with the situation where Jussie Smollett allegedly faked a hate crime against himself in Chicago in 2019. In the years since the event, his career has disappeared and he has been on the receiving end of endless negative attention.

His sister Jurnee hasn't spoken about it until recently. "It's been f*cking painful," she said in a new interview, "One of the most painful things my family's ever experienced — to love someone as much as we love my brother and to watch someone who you love that much go through something like this, that is so public, has been devastating. I was already in a very dark space for a number of reasons and I've tried to not let it make me pessimistic. But everyone who knows me knows that I love my brother and I believe my brother."

You've probably seen Jussie Smollet on TV before on Full House.

Smollett started out doing commercials from the time she was a baby but her big break came working with the Olsen twins. She was 4 years old when she booked a gig playing Michelle Tanner's best friend, Denise, on Full House and audiences just loved her. The network offered her a spin-off, something that her mom was on board to do — as were all her siblings. Her mother brought all six of the kids in to audition and they performed "Shut Em' Down" by Public Enemy for a room full of network suits. As off-beat as that audition was, it netted the family a sitcom called On Our Own that ran for one season on ABC. 


A post shared by Jurnee Smollett (@jurneesmollett) on Aug 5, 2020 at 11:19am PDT

Jurnee Smollett in 2020.

Her mom turned down a Disney series.

Smollett kept acting during her childhood, though she never rose to the level of a household name. She got a lot of attention for her star turn in Eve's Bayou opposite Samuel L. Jackson when she was 11 years old. But her mother curated her career choices and would turn things down if she didn't approve of the project. One offer that the Smollett matriarch shut right down was the idea of a Disney series starring Jurnee.  "My mom would be on the phone with my agent," Smollett recalled, "yelling at her, like, 'I could go sell p*ssy on the corner if I want to make money, OK? I don't need to make money. My daughter's not doing it.' But that was my mom's mentality — "I will not pimp out my children" — and I'm grateful for that."

Once Smollett was running her own career, she continued the habit of only doing parts that really appealed to her. She recalls walking away from a lot of roles because the character was just "the best friend" or "the girlfriend" and didn't offer her an artistic challenge. 

RELATED: Who Is Jocqui Smollett? New Details About Jussie Smollett's Youngest Brother

Jurnee Smollet is a mom.

Smollett has a three-year-old son named Hunter, whom she shares with her ex-husband Josiah Bell. She married the musician in 2010 and their son was born in 2016. The couple got divorced earlier this year. They both keep Hunter off social media. 

She's got a new project that looks amazing.

Smollett's acting resume includes some truly iconic titles like Friday Night Lights, Underground, True Blood and Harley Quinn Birds of Prey but her new project is going to be something amazing. She'll be starring in an HBO series called Lovecraft Country, a series based on as novel inspired by HP Lovecraft's horror fiction. The new series debuts this month. 

RELATED: Is Taraji P. Henson Pregnant? New Rumors The 'Empire' Star Is Expecting

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. She is the creator of the blog FeminXer and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.