Jimmy Smits: Latino Pride in Hollywood

October 7, 2022

Join us to learn about the trajectory of actor Jimmy Smits in his professional career, his personal life, and his contributions to the Latino community.

Actually, the Latino actors who have managed to shine in Hollywood are not as many as we would like, but definitely Jimmy Smits is one of them. Among  his characters are: gang member,  lawyer, congressman, detective and even senator in nothing more and nothing less than the iconic Star Wars saga. But his impact is not limited only to the world of entertainment, this important Latino actor also works in charitable causes that are of great help to many people.

What is the story of Jimmy Smits?

Jimmy Smits was born in New York in 1955. Her mother is from Puerto Rico, while her mother came to the United States from Suriname and is of Dutch descent. He has two sisters; he is the oldest of the three.

He grew up in Brooklyn in a middle-class family of Catholic beliefs. He also lived in Ponce, Puerto Rico, from the age of 10 to 13. This American of Latino descent speaks perfect spanish.

Jimmy attended Thomas Jefferson   High School in Brooklyn. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College and a Master of Fine Arts from Cornell University.

During his youth there was a time when he felt inclined towards politics because of his experience as a youth counselor in a development program. However, histrue vocation found her to participate in plays.

Beginnings in the acting world

Jimmy Smits has built an exemplary artistic career. It all started in the theater  while he was in college.  At the time he worked on joseph Papps production of Hamlet at the New York Shakespeare Festival. He then participated in Michael Weller’s show, The Ballad of Soapy Smith, at the Off-Broadway Public Theater.

He also starred in Little Victories alongside Linda Hunt at the American Place Theater. In addition, he participated in the  Colorado Shakespeare Festival  and  the Center Stage in Baltimore as a guest artist.   By 1993, he performed in Ariel Dorfman’s   Death and the Maiden, performing for 3 months in Los Angeles, California.

As for television, his first appearance was in the famous series Miami Vice. But he definitely began to have notoriety by playing attorney  Victor  Sifuentes on the series  L.A. Law  aired  on NBC from 1986 to 1994.   Jimmy was part ofthe cast of this series for 5 years.

Then it was the turn to give life to Detective Bobby Simone in NyPD, better known as NYPD Blue. For 10 years and 91 episodes, Jimmy was able to sneak into the homes of millions of viewers through the ABC television network.

Another of his brilliant performances was in the popular series The West Wing. This time Jimmy played Matt Santos, congressman from Texas. He also acted in different television productions such as The Cisco Kid, Happily Ever After, Dangerous Afection, Marshall Law, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Tommy knockers, by Stephen King.

In 2017, Jimmy Smits narrated the documentary Latin Music USA from PBS, the public television network in the United States. In this interesting production, the emergence of new American rhythms with the powerful influence of Latin roots is presented.

Jimmy Smith in the movies

When it comes to the big screen, Jimmy Smits’ films include Running Scared, The Believers, Old Gringo, My Family, Price of Glory, Bless the Child, Meeting Jane Austen, and Backyard.

Of course, we must highlight his role as Senator Bail Organa in the second Star Wars trilogy: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, in 2002; Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, from 2005 and Rogue One, in 2016.

Despite his long career, Jimmy continues to fulfill his dreams in show business. This is how in 2021 he acted in the cinematographic version of the theatrical musical In the Heights by Lin-Manuel Miranda, directed by Jon Chu. This story is based on the struggles of the LatIna community in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York.


The Emmy Awards have highlighted Jimmy Smits’ performance with 12 nominations and 1 statuette. Of these, 6 correspond to candidate for Best Supporting Actor in a drama series for his role in L.A. Law, consecutively from 1987 to 1992, resulting in the winner in 1990.

From 1995 to 1999 he was nominated each year for Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series, for his performance in NYPDBlue. And in2009, he was nominated for Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series, for his performance in Dexter.

In 1996, Smits won the Golden Globes for Best Television Actor in a Drama Series.

Social contributions of Jimmy Smits

The versatile actor often performs charity work and contributions to various organizationssuch as: New York Cares, stand up to Cancer, the RedCross, as well as makes donations for HIV/AIDS treatments. In the same way, he has supported initiatives such as The René Enríquez Celebrity Tennis Tournament and the rescue institution for refugees from Scepter and South America.

In 1997, Jimmy Smits co-founded the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts (NHFA). This foundation aims to promote Latino talent in the performing arts through scholarships. Its purpose is to allow the beneficiaries torepairthemselves professionally and thus obtain better professional opportunities.

Undoubtedly, the first Puerto Rican to appear on the cover of GQ magazine has had a formidablecareer, has managed to win the admiration of his followers and is a Latino pride in Hollywood.

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