Roger Guenveur Smith

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This article is about the American actor. For the voice actor with a similar name, see Roger Craig Smith.
Roger Guenveur Smith
Born (1955-07-27) July 27, 1955 (age 59)
Berkeley, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor, director, writer
Years active 1988–present

Roger Guenveur Smith (born July 27, 1955)[1] is an American actor, director, and writer.

Early life[edit]

Smith was born in 1955 in Berkeley, California, the son of Helen Guenveur, a dentist, and Sherman Smith, a judge. He attended Occidental College (American Studies) in Los Angeles and Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where he successfully auditioned for the Drama School, switching from his pursuit of a graduate degree in History. Additionally, Smith studied at the Keskidee Arts Centre in London, England.


Smith received an Obie Award for his signature solo performance in A Huey P. Newton Story on stage. In film, Smith has had a successful collaboration with Spike Lee on several works. He has appeared in films such as School Daze, Do the Right Thing, King of New York with Christopher Walken, Panther, Malcolm X, Poetic Justice, Get On The Bus, Eve's Bayou, He Got Game, and Summer of Sam. During the 1990s, he had a recurring role on A Different World. In 1996, he starred in the self-written and produced A Huey P. Newton Story, a one-man performance based on the life of Black Panther Party founder Huey P. Newton. A performance was later filmed by Spike Lee and released in 2001. In addition to his performances in major studio productions, Smith continues to work in and support independent film projects. In 2003, Smith had a starring role in the Steven Soderbergh/George Clooney TV series K-Street on HBO. Also in 2003, Smith read in the HBO documentary, "Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives"; the film was based on interviews conducted by the WPA in the 1930s with then-surviving former African American slaves. He was also the voice of Bao-Dur in video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II The Sith Lords. He portrayed a corrupt detective in the martial arts/crime film Fist of the Warrior alongside Ho-Sung Pak and Sherilyn Fenn. Smith starred with Laurence Fishburne and Jeff Goldblum in the film Deep Cover. He also played a villain in All About the Benjamins with Ice Cube. His latest major role was in the film American Gangster with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, in which he played the role of "Nate", Frank Lucas's army connection in Vietnam. Smith also had a recurring role in the hit HBO series Oz.

Juan and John, written and performed by Guenveur Smith, is based on baseball's most famous fight--San Francisco Giants pitcher Juan Marichal clubbing Johnny Roseboro of the Los Angeles Dodgers with his bat during a 1965 battle for the pennant at Candlestick Park—which traumatized the playwright as a child.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Smith works and resides in Los Angeles, California. He also resides in New York City and also appeared in the acclaimed HBO Series, OZ, Season One, the film Tales from the Hood with Corben Bernsen, Final Destination, and a multitude of other film, television and stage appearances. He is divorced from Carolina Smith, the mother of his grown daughter.


  1. ^ "California Birth Index, 1905-1995 [database on-line]". Provo, Utah: 2005. Retrieved October 11, 2010. 
  2. ^ Walat, Kathryn (December 2009). "The Personal Historical: ROGER GUENVEUR SMITH". The Brooklyn Rail. 

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