Jimmy Smits

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Jimmy Smits
Jimmy Smits (2).jpg
Smits in 2010
Born (1955-07-09) July 9, 1955 (age 60)
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Occupation Actor
Years active 1984–present
Known for LA Law
NYPD Blue
The West Wing
Sons of Anarchy
Star Wars
Spouse(s) Barbara Smits (1981–1987)
Partner(s) Wanda De Jesus (1986–present)
Children 2

Jimmy Smits (born July 9, 1955) is an American actor. Smits played attorney Victor Sifuentes on the 1980s legal drama L.A. Law, NYPD Detective Bobby Simone on the 1990s police drama NYPD Blue, and Matt Santos on the 1999-2006 serial political drama The West Wing. He also appeared as Bail Organa in the Star Wars prequel trilogy and ADA Miguel Prado in Dexter. In 2012, he joined the main cast of Sons of Anarchy as high-level pimp Nero Padilla.

Early life[edit]

Smits was born in Brooklyn, New York. "Jimmy" is the name on his birth certificate, rather than "Jim" or "James".[1]

His father, Cornelis Leendert Smits, was from Paramaribo, Suriname and was of Dutch descent.[2] Smits' mother, Emilina (née Pola), was Puerto Rican, born in Peñuelas.[3][4] He has two sisters, Yvonne and Diana, grew up in a working-class neighborhood, and spent time in Puerto Rico during his childhood.[5][6]

Smits identifies himself as Puerto Rican and was raised in a strict, devout Roman Catholic family.[5][6][7]

Though born in New York, Smits has deep Puerto Rican roots and frequently visits the island. In 2001, he was arrested for his participation in protests against U.S. Navy bombing practices on the Puerto Rican offshore island of Vieques.[8]

Education[edit]

Smits was an athlete at and 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.[9]

Career[edit]

Smits at the 39th Annual Emmy Awards in 1987

An early role played by Smits was that of Eddie Rivera in the two-hour series premiere of Miami Vice, in 1984. In the episode, he portrayed Sonny Crockett's original partner, who was killed in a sting gone wrong.

Beginning in 1986, he played Victor Sifuentes in the first five seasons of the long-running legal drama L.A. Law.

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' most acclaimed roles was that of Detective Bobby Simone on NYPD Blue, which he starred in from 1994 to 1998. He received several Emmy nominations several for his performance on that television series and won the ALMA award twice.

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

Smits was to have hosted the 2001 Latin Grammy Awards broadcast on September 11, 2001, but it was called off because of the terrorist attacks that day. He instead hosted 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).

Smits played the role of Congressman Matt Santos of Houston, Texas, in the final two seasons of the American television drama The West Wing, joining fellow L.A. Law alumnus John Spencer. Smits' character eventually ran for and won the US Presidency in the series.

In Dexter season 3, Smits played the role of Miguel Prado, an assistant district attorney who befriends the title character.[10] Smits was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for the role.

Additionally, he portrayed the character Alex Vega in the CBS TV series Cane, which aired from September 25, 2007, to December 18, 2007, and was subsequently cancelled 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).[11]

Smits will star in The Get Down, a musical drama television series that is slated to debut in 2016 on Netflix.[12]

Stage performances[edit]

In the mid-1980s, Smits acted in numerous performances at the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, New York. His roles at the Hangar included Max in the 1982 production of Cabaret and Paul in Loose Ends, the same year. 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. 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[edit]

Smits was married to high school sweetheart, Barbara Smits, from 1981 until 1987. They have two children, Taina (born in 1973) and Joaquin (born in 1983). Since 1986, Smits has been in a relationship with actress Wanda De Jesus; they live together in Los Angeles.[9]

Smits was arrested in 1987 for assaulting an officer, after police answered a call for help at his home. He and his girlfriend, De Jesus, were arrested for battery on three police officers who responded to the call.[13] The charges were later dropped because of conflicting witness statements. Smits later pled guilty to the misdemeanor of disturbing the peace, and was sentenced to 18 months of unsupervised probation and a $150 fine. De Jesus pled guilty to misidentifying herself to a police officer and disturbing the peace. She was fined $250 and sentenced to perform 18 months of unsupervised probation and 75 hours of community service.[14]

Charity work and public service[edit]

Smits helped found the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts[15] 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.[citation needed] More recently,[when?] Smits filmed a PSA for Detroit Non-Profit Cass Community Social Services. Smits will act as the Honorary Chair of their 6th Annual "Catch the Fireworks With Cass" event[when?] that takes place during the notable fireworks display in Brooklyn.[16]

Smits has also donated to several other organizations, including the Red Cross, New York Cares, and Stand up to Cancer. In addition, he regularly donates to HIV and AIDS treatment and to help human rights around the world. He also donates for disaster relief whenever a big natural disaster occurs, and he donates for the creative arts.[citation needed]

His main work with Latinos is summarized by these two quotes:

  • "I've been very lucky to work on a wide variety of projects, including two long-run and top-10 dramatic television shows. That is why it is so important to offer a helping hand to the next generation of young Latinos coming up behind me.".[citation needed]
  • "I am a firm believer in education and have worked very hard to tell young Latinos that they must go to college and that, if possible, they should pursue an advanced degree. I am convinced that education is the great equalizer.".[citation needed]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

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 Senator Bail Organa
2007 The Jane Austen Book Club Daniel Avila
2009 Backyard Mickey Santos Also known as El Traspatio
2010 Mother and Child Paco

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1984 Miami Vice Eddie Rivera Episode: "Brother's Keeper"
1986–1992 L.A. Law Victor Sifuentes 107 episodes
1986 Spenser: For Hire Hector Valdes Episode: "In a Safe Place"
1986 Rockabye 2nd Policeman Television movie
1987 The Highwayman Bo Ziker Television movie
1987 Stamp of a Killer Richard Braden Television movie
1988 Glitz Vincent Marra Television movie
1988 Mickey's 60th Birthday Victor Sifuentes Television movie
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 movie
1993 The Tommyknockers Jim 'Gard' Gardner Television movie
1994 The Cisco Kid Cisco Kid Television movie
1995 Solomon & Sheba King Solomon Television movie
1994–1998, 2004 NYPD Blue Det. Bobby Simone Season 2-6, regular; Season 12, guest; 90 episodes
1995 Happily Ever After Old King Cole Episode: "Mother Goose"
1996 Marshal Law Jack Coleman Television movie
1997 Mother Goose: A Rappin' and Rhymin' Special Old King Cole Television movie
1997 Happily Ever After Price Felipe Episode: "Cinderella"
2004–2006 The West Wing Matt Santos 37 episodes
2005 Lackawanna Blues Ruben Santiago, Sr. Television movie
2007 Cane Alex Vega 13 episodes
2008 Dexter Miguel Prado 12 episodes
2010 Outlaw Cyrus Garza 8 episodes
2012–2014 Sons of Anarchy Neron 'Nero' Padilla 38 episodes
2016 The Get Down Francisco "Papa Fuerte" Cruz Upcoming series

Awards and nominations[edit]

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

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]