Shawnee Smith

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Shawnee Smith
Shawnee Smith gfdl.png
Smith in 2007
Shawnee Rebecca Smith

(1969-07-03) July 3, 1969 (age 53)
OccupationActor, singer
Years active1978–present
Jason Reposar
(m. 1998; div. 2003)

Kai Mattoon
(m. 2005; div. 2006)

Shawnee Rebecca Smith (born July 3, 1969) is an American actress and singer. She is known for her portrayal of Amanda Young in the Saw franchise (2004–2010), which established her as a "scream queen" and as an influential figure in popular culture.[1][2] She has also starred as Linda in the CBS sitcom Becker (1998–2004) and Jennifer Goodson on the FX sitcom Anger Management (2012–2014).

In addition to acting, Smith once fronted the rock band Fydolla Ho, with which she toured globally. Later, with actress Missi Pyle, she served as half of Smith & Pyle, a country rock band.

Early life[edit]

Smith was born at Orangeburg Regional Hospital in Orangeburg, South Carolina. She is the second child of Patricia Ann (née Smoak), an oncology nurse, and James H. Smith,[3] a financial planner and former US Air Force pilot. When she was one year old, her family relocated from South Carolina to Van Nuys, California. Her parents divorced when she was two years old, and her mother remarried when she was eight years old. She attended Ranchito Avenue Elementary School in Panorama City, Los Angeles and Madison Jr. High in North Hollywood, Los Angeles. She attended Grant High School for two years then transfered to North Hollywood High School, graduating in 1987.[3][4]


Acting career[edit]

Early film roles[edit]

Smith began acting as a child, appearing on stage in A Christmas Carol repertory from ages eight to 11 and starred in a stage play with Richard Dreyfuss at age 15. She performed in the original stage production of To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday and won the Dramalogue Critics Award for her performance, becoming the youngest actor up to that time to receive such an honor. She made her television debut in a McDonald's commercial titled "Best Friends" in 1981.[citation needed]

She joined the Screen Actors Guild at age nine and made her feature film debut in John Huston's 1982 adaptation of the Broadway musical Annie, as one of Annie Bennett Warbucks's fellow orphans. In 1985, she co-starred in two melodramas, Not My Kid and Crime of Innocence, along with a small role in Iron Eagle (1986). In 1987, Smith co-starred in Summer School as teen mom-to-be Rhonda Altobello. The following year, she starred in a 1988 remake of the Irvin Yeaworth classic The Blob, as well as the film Bluegrass with Cheryl Ladd.

Smith played a rich teen who helps Harry Crumb locate her kidnapped sister in the 1989 film Who's Harry Crumb?. That same year, she co-starred with Jennie Garth and Barbara Eden in the short-lived TV series Brand New Life. The following year, she co-starred in Michael Cimino's remake of the thriller Desperate Hours. She took a three-year break from acting in the early 1990s, primarily because she had outgrown teenage roles and had a hard time finding work. In 1994, she played Julie Lawry in the TV miniseries The Stand, based on the novel by Stephen King, and landed a small role in the film Leaving Las Vegas.[citation needed]

Breakthrough with Becker and the Saw franchise[edit]

Smith promoting Saw III at the 2006 San Diego Comic-Con

From 1998 to 2004, Smith co-starred as Linda in Becker. She made several guest appearances on such television shows as Cagney & Lacey, Murder, She Wrote, The X-Files, Players, and Law & Order: Los Angeles. In 2003, she lent her voice to an episode of the Disney cartoon Kim Possible as Vivian Porter.[citation needed]

Smith became well known for her role as Amanda Young in the Saw films. She has been called a "scream queen" due to the number of horror films in which she has appeared.[1][2] In the DVD commentary of Saw, the producers revealed that her scenes were filmed while she was battling a terrible case of the flu. In the DVD commentary of Saw II, she was revealed to be four months pregnant with her second child during filming. Her pregnancy was kept a secret from everyone except director Darren Lynn Bousman. He mentioned in the commentary that Smith's daughter Verve accidentally told him about the pregnancy during filming.

Smith has said that although she is briefly shown in Saw IV and Saw V, she was never on set. Any scenes featuring her were dubbed from file footage. On March 20, 2009, producer Mark Burg released a statement confirming that Smith would be in Saw VI.[5] She arrived in Toronto on March 31, 2009, to begin filming new flashback sequences.[5][6] She admitted she has a hard time watching the Saw films, or horror movies in general. She originally turned the role of Amanda Young down because it was very upsetting to her. After turning the role down, she was shown the eight-minute short film Saw by Leigh Whannell and James Wan and changed her mind after the role was offered to her a second time.

Continued work and other ventures[edit]

In 2006, Smith made an appearance in the 10-minute short film trailer Repo! The Genetic Opera, also directed by Bousman. Smith's character was Heather Sweet, the surgery-addicted daughter of GeneCo president Rotti Largo.[citation needed] The trailer was filmed in Toronto, Ontario, and was an adaptation from the stage version. Bousman filmed the trailer after completing Saw III to try to pitch the idea to film producers. Smith did not reprise her role as Heather Sweet when Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures picked up the film in 2007; she was replaced by Paris Hilton.[citation needed]

In 2008, Smith played Detective Gina Harcourt in the FEARnet original series 30 Days of Night: Dust to Dust.[7] The series premiered on July 17, 2008, on in six webisodes along with behind-the-scenes clips. This series is a continuation of the first webisode series 30 Days of Night: Blood Trails. She made her producing debut with this series.[citation needed] Smith was the host and one of three mentors on the VH1 reality program Scream Queens, which aired from October 20, 2008, to December 8, 2008.[8] Smith did not return as host and mentor for season two due to scheduling conflicts; she was replaced by Jaime King.[9]

In 2009, Smith played the role of Dr. Sullivan, child psychiatrist, in The Grudge 3. The film was a direct-to-DVD release on May 12, 2009. She appeared as a guest star on The Secret Life of the American Teenager on August 30, 2010. It was her first television appearance since Scream Queens aired in 2008. She appeared in the series premiere of Law & Order: Los Angeles on September 29, 2010.[10] Smith starred as Jennifer Goodson, the ex-wife of Charlie Sheen's character in the TV series Anger Management.[citation needed]

Music career[edit]

Smith & Pyle[edit]

Smith (right) with Missi Pyle (left), performing as Smith & Pyle in 2008

She was part of a country rock music group with actress Missi Pyle called Smith & Pyle. The two actresses met while filming an ABC comedy pilot titled Traveling in Packs. The band started after Smith invited Pyle to join her in attending the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. The duo formed a band.

Their first album, It's OK to Be Happy, was released digitally through iTunes and in July 2008. Their debut album was recorded in Joshua Tree, California, and produced by Chris Goss. Smith and Pyle became business partners and formed their own record label, called Urban Prairie Records.

The two disbanded in 2011 before a second album was completed. While promoting Anger Management in 2013, she stated that she reached a point where she wanted to focus on her children and television work.[citation needed]

Other work[edit]

Smith contributed to the soundtrack of Saw III with vocals on Hydrovibe's song "Killer Inside" and to the soundtrack for Catacombs as a solo vocalist with the song "Please Myself". Her voice was also featured in the film Carnival of Souls, where her character Sandra performed a jazz song titled "I Fear".

Smith fronted the punk/metal band Fydolla Ho (the name coming from the Chris Rock character in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988)[11] in the early 2000s. The group was originally formed by Smith, Suicidal Tendencies bassist Robert Trujillo, Suicidal Tendencies guitarist Rick Battson, and Skindred vocalist Benji Webbe as a small recording project.[12] The band released their debut full-length album, Untied, in December 2001. She balanced the band with being a regular cast member on Becker. The band officially ended in 2004.[citation needed]

Smith began working on a solo album in 2004 with producer Chris Goss, but the project was never completed. In an interview with Radio Free in October 2005, she stated, "between being a mom, and working, and growing another baby, I have not had time to give attention to music for a while."[13] She provided vocals on a cover of Steve Miller Band’s “Abracadabra” by Eagles of Death Metal after Jesse Hughes overheard her singing the song in a studio bathroom.[14] This cover was released in 2019.

Personal life[edit]

Smith has three children, a daughter from her marriage to photographer Jason Reposar (1998–2003), a son from her brief marriage to musician Kai Mattoon (2005–2006) and another son in 2010. Her two older children were featured in the debut Smith & Pyle album, It's OK to Be Happy. The children are listed in the album credits as having vocals and spoken narrative tracks for two songs.

Smith and Reposar eloped in 1998 while on vacation in Scotland. The song "Sugar", performed by Smith & Pyle, was written by Smith after her divorce from Reposar. She describes it as her breakup song, saying that it is quite different from Pyle's breakup song, "I Wish You Were Dead".[15]

Smith is a convert from Lutheranism[16] to Eastern Orthodoxy, and in 2014 stated that she was thinking of making a documentary about her conversion and other aspects of Orthodoxy, which she planned to call Orthodoxy: A Love Story.[17]

Smith was featured in Maxim in June 2001. In 2013, after her religious conversion to Orthodox Christianity, Smith expressed regret about the two Maxim photo shoots and guessed that 80% of her presence on the Internet comes from those two shoots alone.[18]



Year Title Role Notes
1982 Annie Dancer
1986 Iron Eagle Joenie
1987 Summer School Rhonda Altobello
1988 The Blob Meg Penny
1989 Who's Harry Crumb? Nikki Downing
1990 Desperate Hours May Cornell
1995 Leaving Las Vegas Biker girl
1995 The Low Life Little Tramp Woman
1996 Female Perversions Make-Up Salesgirl
1997 Every Dog Has Its Day Redhead
1997 Dead Men Can't Dance Sgt. Addy Cooper
1997 Greater Than a Tiger Alice Short film
1997 Men Clara
1997 Dogtown Tammy Hayes
1997 Bombshell Shelly
1998 Armageddon Redhead
1998 Carnival of Souls Sandra Grant
1998 The Party Crashers Carolyn
1999 A Slipping-Down Life Faye-Jean Lindsay
1999 Breakfast of Champions Bonnie MacMahon
1999 Eat Your Heart Out Nicole Alternative title: American Shrimps
2002 Never Get Outta the Boat Dawn
2004 Saw Amanda Young
2004 The Almost Guys Bigger
2005 The Island Suzie
2005 Saw II Amanda Young
2006 Repo! The Genetic Opera Heather Sweet Short film
2006 The Scott Tibbs Documentary Amanda Young
2006 Saw III
2007 Saw IV Archive footage
2008 Saw V Archive footage
2009 The Grudge 3 Dr. Francine Sullivan Straight-to-video.
2009 Saw VI Amanda Young
2010 Kill Speed Honey
2010 Saw 3D Amanda Young Archive footage
2013 Jayne Mansfield's Car Vicky Caldwell
2013 Grace Unplugged Michelle Trey
2016 Savannah Sunrise Joy
2016 Believe Dr. Nancy Wells
2021 Christmas vs. the Walters Diane Walters


Year Title Role Notes
1984 Silver Spoons Tawny 1 episode
1985 Not My Kid Carol Television film
1985 It's Your Move Brenda 1 episode
1985 Cagney & Lacey Mrs. Zal's daughter 1 episode
1985 Crime of Innocence Jodi Hayward Television film
1986 All Is Forgiven Sonia Russell Recurring role; 9 episodes
1986 Easy Prey Tina Marie Risico Television film
1988 Bluegrass Alice Gibbs Television film
1988 I Saw What You Did Kim Fielding Television film
1989–1990 Brand New Life Amanda Gibbons Recurring role; 6 episodes
1990 Lucky Chances Olympia Stanislopolous Golden Television miniseries
1993 Murder, She Wrote Jill Cleveland 1 episode
1994 The Stand Julie Lawry Television miniseries; 2 episodes
1994 The X-Files Jessie O'Neil 1 episode: "Firewalker"
1996 Face of Evil Jeanelle Polk Television film
1997 Something Borrowed, Something Blue Teri Television film
1997 Arsenio Laura Lauman Recurring role; 6 episodes
1997 The Shining Waitress Television miniseries
1997–1998 The Tom Show Florence Madison Recurring role; 19 episodes
1998 Players Lila 1 episode
1998 Twice Upon a Time Maggie Fowler Television film
1998–2004 Becker Linda Main role
2003 Kim Possible Vivian Porter (voice) 1 episode
2005 Washington Street Television film
2007 Traveling in Packs Ivy Unsold pilot
2007 Secrets of an Undercover Wife Lisa Wilder-Crews Television film
2008 30 Days of Night: Dust to Dust Detective Gina Harcourt Miniseries; also Executive producer
2008 Scream Queens Herself Host and mentor
2010 The Secret Life of the American Teenager Carrie Costigan 2 episodes
2010 Law & Order: Los Angeles Trudy 1 episode
2012–2014 Anger Management Jennifer Goodson Main role

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2002 Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Fever 105 Female Imager Voice role
2012 Lollipop Chainsaw Mariska, Queen of Psychedelia Voice role



Songs featured in film
  • "I Fear", Carnival of Souls (1998)
  • "Killer Inside" (with Hydrovibe), Saw III soundtrack (2006)
  • "Zytrate Anatomy", Repo! The Genetic Opera 10-minute short film (2006)
  • "Please Myself", Catacombs soundtrack (2007)

Standalone works[edit]

  • "Deciding" (2004)
  • "Head" (2004)
  • "Shelter" (2004)

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
1985 Dramalogue Critics Award Performance To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday Won
1987 Young Artist Award Exceptional Young Actress Starring in a Television Special or Movie of the Week Crime of Innocence Nominated
1989 Young Artist Award Best Young Actress in a Horror or Mystery Motion Picture The Blob Nominated
2007 Spike TV Scream Awards Most Vile Villain Saw III (shared with Tobin Bell) Nominated
2007 Chiller-Eyegore Awards Herself Won


  1. ^ a b Stax (2006-10-27). "The Women of Horror: Shawnee Smith". IGN. Archived from the original on 2010-06-08. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
  2. ^ a b "Bloody-Disgusting". Retrieved 2010-05-20.
  3. ^ a b Biodata,; accessed December 26, 2014.
  4. ^ Galina, Espinoza (2001-02-02). "Sitting Pretty". People. 55 (6).
  5. ^ a b "Official Saw News". Official Saw News. Archived from the original on 2012-09-07. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
  6. ^ "UPDATED: Shawnee Smith Returns in 'Saw VI'". BD Horror News. 2009-03-21. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
  7. ^ Dread Central – "Smith, Shawnee (30 Days of Night: Dust to Dust)
  8. ^ "Scream Queens Official Site". Retrieved 2010-05-20.
  9. ^ "Set Visit Teaser: Scream Queens Season Two". 2010-01-01. Retrieved 2010-08-08.
  10. ^ Keck, William (2010-08-04). "Keck's Exclusives: Law & Order: Los Angeles Goes Hollywood For First Case". Lionsgate. Retrieved 2010-08-04.
  11. ^ "An Interview with Shawnee Smith - Actress & Lead Vocalist of Fydolla Ho".
  12. ^ "Smith & Pyle on Demon FM". 1999-02-22. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
  13. ^ "Exclusive Interview: Shawnee Smith". 2005-10-25. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
  14. ^ "EODM "Best Songs We Never Wrote" Track by Track". eodmofficial. 2019-07-15. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  15. ^ Shawnee Smith on The Time Machine,; accessed December 25, 2014.
  16. ^ "- YouTube". YouTube.
  17. ^ Dreher, Rod (May 20, 2014). "Conversion of Anger Management actress: Shawnee Smith". The Moving Icon. Archived from the original on February 3, 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  18. ^ "Shawnee Smith on Every Man's Bacon 3". Every Man's Bacon. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2013-07-23.

External links[edit]