Who is Jimmy Smits?

His breakthrough role was as Victor Sifuentes in the crime drama series “L.A. Law”, but Jimmy Smits is perhaps known best for his performance as Detective Bobby Simone in another crime drama series, “NYPD”. He received multiple Primetime Emmy Award nominations for both roles, winning the Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 1990 for his part in “L. A. Law”.

Besides the aforementioned roles, Jimmy Smits has over 60 acting credits to his name, and during his career, has been nominated for 45 awards and has won 14. More about his career, his life, and what he’s up to, you’ll find in this article.

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Early life, family, and education

Born Jimmy Leendert Smits under the zodiac sign of Cancer on 9 July 1955, in New York City USA, he holds American nationality although he also identifies as Puerto Rican. Raised in a devout Roman Catholic family by his father Cornelis, who was of Dutch descent, and his mother, Emilina, a Puerto Rican, alongside his two sisters, Diana and Yvonne.

Jimmy and his family moved to Puerto Rico when he was a little boy, and he had a hard time attending a local school since he didn’t speak Spanish. Subsequently, the family moved back to New York City, where Jimmy attended Thomas Jefferson High School. Upon matriculating in 1973, he enrolled at Brooklyn College, from which he graduated in 1980, and then earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from Cornell University in 1982.

Roles in series

Jimmy made his acting debut in the 1980 series “A Capitol Fourth”, followed by his role as Jimmy in an episode of the series “Ryan’s Hope” in 1983. He guest-starred as Eddie Rivera in “Miami Vice” in 1984, and as Quon in “All My Children” in 1985 before he was cast to play one of his most recognizable roles.

Between 1986 and 1992, Jimmy was seen as Victor Sifuentes in 107 episodes of “L. A. Law”, also starring Corbin Bernsen, Alan Rachins and Jill Eikenberry. The series followed the story of the lives and work of the attorneys of a major law firm; it had 147 award nominations and 45 wins, including 15 Primetime Emmys. Besides his aforementioned Primetime Emmy win and nominations, Jimmy, was nominated for the 1991 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries, or Motion Picture Made for Television.

He followed with his role as Detective Bobby Simone, and between 1994 and 2004, Jimmy made an appearance in 90 episodes of this mystery crime-drama, which followed the lives of the detectives from New York Police Department (NYPD)’s 15th Precinct. The series had 203 award nominations and 88 wins, including 20 Primetime Emmys. Among many other awards and nominations, Jimmy won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama in 1996, Golden Satellite Award for Best Actor in a Series, Drama, and TV Guide Award for Favorite Actor in a Drama in 1999.

When he left “NYPD”, Jimmy was seen as Matthew Santos in the political drama “The West Wing” – from 2004 through 2006, he co-starred in 37 episodes of this 26-times Primetime Emmy-awarded series, which followed the lives of White House officials in the West Wing, starring Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe and Allison Janney. For his performance in the series, Jimmy was twice nominated for the Imagen Award for Best Actor-Television, and Golden Derby TV Award for Drama Supporting Actor, winning the American Latino Media Arts Award (ALMA) Award for Outstanding Actor in a Television Series.

In the following years, Jimmy was seen as Alex Vega in 13 episodes of the series “Cane” (2007) before his recurring role as Miguel Prado in “Dexter” (2008), which also brought him numerous awards and nominations, including the Academy of Science of Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, Saturn Award for Best Guest Performance in a Television Series.

Next, Jimmy was seen as Cyrus Garza in “Outlaw” (2010), followed by his role as Nero Padilla in “Sons of Anarchy”. Between 2012 and 2014, he was seen in 38 episodes of this thriller crime-drama starring Charlie Hunnam. Jimmy was nominated for the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series, and Satellite Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries, or Motion Picture Made for Television.

During 2016 and 2017, Jimmy portrayed Francisco Cruz in “The Get Down”, concurrently playing John Donovan in “24: Legacy”. He followed with his role as Isaac Roa in “How to Get Away with Murder” (2017-2018), before he was cast to play Elijah Strait in “Bluff City Law” in 2019.

Most recently, Jimmy was seen playing Chief John Suarez in “East New York”. The show began airing in 2022, and follows the story of Deputy Inspector Regina Haywood (played by Amanda Warren) and her diverse team. It aired until May 2023, and although had no nominations, it was well-rated by the audience (7.3/10).

Concurrently, in 2022, Jimmy played Senator Bail Organa in the TV mini-series “Obi-Wan Kenobi”, a science-fiction adventure, which had 17 award nominations and five wins, including the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, Saturn Award for Best Streaming Limited Event Series.

Roles in movies

Jimmy made his first big-screen appearance as Julio Gonzales in the 1986 action comedy “Running Scared”. He followed with his roles in “The Believers” (1987), “Old Gringo” (1989), and “Vital Signs” (1990).

Jimmy’s first lead role came in the 1991 fantasy comedy “Switch”, about a womanizer killed by one of his ex-lovers who then returns from death as a woman; Jimmy starred opposite Ellen Barkin and JoBeth Williams.

Next, he starred in the 1993 thriller drama “Gross Misconduct”, followed by his role as Jimmy in the 1995 drama “My Family”, which was nominated for the Oscar – Best Make-Up – while Jimmy was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead.

In the following years, he was seen in “Lesser Prophets” (1997), “The Million Dollar Hotel” (2000), and then as Bail Organa in “Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones” (2002), reprising his role in “Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith” (2005).

Four years later, he was cast to play Mickey Santos in the 2009 mystery crime drama “El Traspatio”, the true story of the border town of Juarez, Mexico where since the middle-’90s thousands of women have gone missing. For his performance, Jimmy was nominated for the Imagen Award for Best Supporting Actor- Film.

In 2016, he reprised his role as Bail Organa in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”, followed by his role as Carl in the 2017 drama “Who We Are Now”. Three years later, Jimmy was cast to play The Wizard in “The Tax Collector”, while his most recent role was his portrayal of Kevin Rosario in the 2021 musical romantic drama “In the Heights”, a film version of the eponymous Broadway musical with lyrics and music by Lin-Manuel Miranda based on the novel by Quiara Alegria Hudes; Jimmy was nominated for the Hollywood Critics Association Midseason Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Also in 2021, he received his Star on the Walk of Fame, at 6100 Hollywood Boulevard.

Love life, partner Wanda De Jesus

Jimmy is one of those Hollywood actors who prefer to keep his personal matters away from the public eye. It’s widely known that since 1986 he has been in a relationship with actress Wanda De Jesus, probably known best for her role as Santana Andrade in the series “Santa Barbara”.

Before his relationship with Wanda, Jimmy was married to his high school sweetheart, Barbara. The two married in 1981, and had two children together, daughter Tania born in 1975, and son Joaquin in 1983 – Jimmy’s and Barbara’s divorce was finalized in 1987.

Age, height, and net worth

This 67-year-old actor is known for his towering height of 6ft 3ins (1.91m), and besides his height and slender frame, his trademark is a deep smooth voice. He’s often played likable, noble characters, and perhaps this is the reason why Jimmy is one of the favorite Hollywood actors.

If you have wondered how rich Jimmy is, according to sources as of June 2023, his net worth has been estimated at over $12 million.

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