Roger Guenveur Smith

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Roger Guenveur Smith
Born (1955-07-27) July 27, 1955 (age 68)
Occupation(s)Actor, director, writer
Years active1988–present
  • Carolina Smith (divorced)
  • LeTania Kirkland

Roger Guenveur Smith (born July 27, 1955) is an American actor, director, and writer best known for his collaborations with Spike Lee.[1]

Early life[edit]

Smith was born on July 27, 1955, in Berkeley, California, the son of Helen Guenveur, a dentist, and Sherman Smith, a judge. He attended Loyola High School in Los Angeles, and graduated from Occidental College (American Studies) in Los Angeles. He then studied at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where he successfully auditioned for the Drama School and switched his pursuit of a graduate degree in history. Additionally, Smith studied at the Keskidee Arts Centre in London, England.


In film, Smith has collaborated with Spike Lee on several works. He has appeared in films such as School Daze,[1] Do the Right Thing,[1] King of New York, 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 theatre performance based on the life of Black Panther Party founder Huey P. Newton. Smith received an Obie Award, and 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, he 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, based on interviews conducted by the WPA in the 1930s with formerly enslaved African Americans, is a compilation of slave narratives with actors emulating the original conversation with the interviewer. Smith was also the voice of Bao-Dur in the 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 1992 film Deep Cover. He also played a villain in All About the Benjamins (2002) with Ice Cube. In 2000, he portrayed Agent Schreck in the first installment of the Final Destination horror films. In 2006, he played the main villain in the straight-to-video actioner Mercenary for Justice, opposite Steven Seagal. Smith was in the 2007 film American Gangster with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, in which he played the role of "Nate", Frank Lucas's army connection in Vietnam. Most recently he played the role of "Isaiah" in the 2016 film The Birth of a Nation, a film about the life of Nat Turner.

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 John 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]

Smith portrayed American black leader Booker T. Washington in the 2020 Netflix miniseries Self Made, based on the life of Madame C. J. Walker.

Personal life[edit]

Smith works and resides in Los Angeles, California, and also resides in New York City. He is divorced from Carolina Smith, the mother of his adult daughter. He and his wife, LeTania Kirkland Smith, have three children.[3]


Year Title Role Notes
1988 School Daze Yoda
1989 Do the Right Thing Smiley
1990 King of New York Tanner
1992 Deep Cover Eddie
1992 Malcolm X Rudy
1993 Poetic Justice Heywood
1995 Panther Pruitt
1995 Tales from the Hood Rhodie
1996 Get on the Bus Gary
1997 Eve's Bayou Lenny Mereaux
1997 Oz Huseni Mershah
1998 He Got Game Big Time Willie
1999 Summer of Sam Detective Curt Atwater
1999 Facade Henson
2000 Final Destination Agent Schreck
2001 A Huey P. Newton Story Huey P. Newton TV movie
2002 All About the Benjamins Julian Ramose
2003 Shade Marlo
2004 Justice Carter
2004 Joy Road Charles Blocker
2006 Fatwa Samir Al-Faied
2006 Mercenary for Justice Anthony Chapel Video
2006 Confessions Father Jeffrey
2006 God's Waiting List Solomon Corbin
2007 Fist of the Warrior Det. Craig Barnes
2007 I Believe in America Cesar
2007 The Take Dr. Phineas
2007 American Gangster Nate
2007 Cover Kevin Wilson
2009 Fighting Jack Dancing
2009 The Rothstein Diamond Walter
2010 Caller ID Blake
2010 Mooz-Lum Hassan Mahdi
2010 Better Mus' Come Prime Minister
2011 The Son of No One Hanky
2011 CornerStore Earl
2011 Abduction Mr. Miles
2011 Lost Revolution Cesar
2012 In the Hive Paris
2013 Water & Power Turnvill
2013 They Die by Dawn Jourdon Anderson
2015 Dope Austin Jacoby
2015 Dutch Book Cornelius Parks
2015 But Not for Me Raymond Little
2015 Supermodel Max
2015 Chi-Raq Red, White, and Blue Insurance Salesman
2016 The Birth of a Nation Isaiah
2016 Dirty Detective Berg
2016 Why Lie? Beer, Woman, Chicken Wings Dubs Miguel
2017 Bitch Steven Sheriff
2017 The Queen of Hollywood Blvd. Duke
2017 The Clapper Dr. Rogers B. Hay
2017 Rodney King Rodney King
2017 Dr. Brinks & Dr. Brinks Paul Sydney
2017 Marshall Walter White
2018 The Choir Director Trustee Jonathan Smith
2018 No More Mr Nice Guy El Gato
2018 The Other Side Martin
2018 Burning Shadow Mr. Jones
2018 I'll See You Around Michael Gomez
2018 Behind the Movement Rosa Parks husband
2020 Carl Weber's Influence Bradley Hudson
2022–23 All Rise Judge Marshall Thomas
2022 Till Dr. T.R.M. Howard


  1. ^ a b c "Roger Guenveur Smith". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2013. Archived from the original on October 26, 2013.
  2. ^ Walat, Kathryn (December 2009). "The Personal Historical: ROGER GUENVEUR SMITH". The Brooklyn Rail.
  3. ^ "Of Many Worlds". Retrieved June 29, 2018.

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