Janet Smollett Biography, Family & Facts About Jussie Smollett’s Mom

Janet Smollett Biography, Family & Facts About Jussie Smollett’s Mom

For a long time Janet Smollett remained unknown outside the media attention, but the success of her son Jussie Smollett, whose groundbreaking career came via the Fox Network show Empire, which was then further enhanced by his false claims of racist attacks, has made her one of the most remarkable mothers in the African American entertainment industry.

Janet Smollett was a teacher and an inspiration not only to her son but also to mothers who learned more about her through their children. She is also a great cook whose recipes are currently on Amazon’s digital shelves. Learn more about her and her family below.

Biography of Janet Smollett

Janet Smollett, the mother of several actors, was born on November 27, 1952, in New Orleans, USA. Much of her background is unknown, and details of her life remain hidden. In her younger years, Janet Smollett was an active member of the US civil rights movement, where she stood up for and walked with other well-known civil rights campaigners such as Bobby Seale and Huey Newton.

Janet Smollett Biography, Family & Facts About Jussie Smollett’s Mom
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After she married Joel Smollett, a Jewish man of Russian and Polish origin in California, Janet Smollett began the project that would define her life. She and her husband gave birth to six children, who they all raised together, although Joel did not spend part of his childhood in the lives of his children.

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Having spent a significant portion of her life fighting for civil rights, she has influenced the desire and drive of her children, which is reflected in her fight for causes such as Black Lives Matter and HIV/AIDS prevention.

Janet Smollett is also revered as a great chef who has made it her mission to prepare cooked meals at home to celebrate family and achievements. With the help of her children, she has published her recipes in a cookbook that was published in 2018.

The cookbook, entitled “The Family Table: Recipes and Moments from the Life of a Nomad”, tells of her life and the journey of her family, who lived in thirteen states of the United States alongside her recipes.

Perhaps most importantly, Janet Smollett is considered the first and most important acting coach of her children, introducing them to various forms of performing arts, including acting, singing, and dancing. Janet introduced her children to professional acting at a young age, and some of them later became well-known actors such as Jussie and Jurnee Smollett.


To say that Janet Smollett lived in a large family for most of her life would be quite accurate. As the matriarch of the Smollett family, she is the mother of six children named Jurnee, Jake, Jazz, Jacqui, Jojo, and Jussie.

Jurnee Smollett, the eldest child of the family, is also an actress who has played in projects such as Parenthood, Underground and True Blood. Jazz Smollett is part of a production company founded by the family’s two actors, Jurnee and Jussie, and she is also a published author, blogger, and social media personality. Her younger brother Jake is a cook, Jacqui works in a technology company, while Jojo works for a non-profit organization.

Janet Smollett Biography, Family & Facts About Jussie Smollett’s Mom
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Jussie Smollett, the most popular of her children, is an actor who has been acting since childhood and has starred in films such as North and The Mighty Ducks. He gained his fame through the show Empire, where he played Jamal Lyon.

Janet Smollett’s middle child, Jussie, is not only an actor but also a musician who has released several titles and projects, such as the EP The Poisoned Hearts Club and singles like Hurt People, Freedom.

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Other Facts About Janet Smollett

All children of Janet Smollett once played the lead role in a sitcom, On Our Own. The ABC show lasted only one season between 1994 and 1995.

Her husband Joel Smollett died of cancer on January 7, 2015.

Despite extensive rumors and social conspiracy suggesting that she is related to US Senator Kamala Harris, Janet Smollett, whose maiden name is Harris, is in no way related to the US Senator.

While Jussie Smollett played the lead role in “Empire”, Janet called him every Wednesday to talk about the show, including the songs and actions of the characters in the show.