Roger Guenveur Smith

Born:     July 27, 1955
Birthplace:    Berkeley, CA
Zodiac Sign:  Leo

Career and Life

Roger Guenveur Smith is an American actor, director, and writer best known for his collaborations with Spike Lee.

Smith is the son of Helen Guenveur, a dentist, and Sherman Smith, a judge. He attended Loyola High School in Los Angeles, 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.

In film, Smith has collaborated with Spike Lee on several works. He has appeared in films such as School Daze, Do the Right Thing, King of New York, Deep Cover, 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, for which Smith received an Obie Award, 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 Screck 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 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.

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

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