Early life, family, educational background
Singer and actress Shawnee Rebecca Smith was born on 3 July 1969, at the Orangeburg Regional Hospital in Orangeburg, South Carolina, USA, to former US Air Force pilot and financial planner James H. Smith, and an oncology nurse Patricia Ann (née) Smoak. Her family moved to Van Nuys, California when she was a year old. When she was two, her parents divorced, and her mother remarried six years later.
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Shawnee attended Ranchito Avenue Elementary School in Panorama City, Los Angeles, then Madison Jr. High in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, from where she matriculated in 1987.
Shawnee acted in a stage production of “A Christmas Carol” and various other productions between the ages of eight and 11. When she was 15, she starred alongside Richard Dreyfuss in “The Hands of its Enemy” at the Huntington Hartford Theatre, receiving high praise for her performance.
She was part of the original cast of “To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday,” a performance which earned her the Dramalogue Critics Award; at the time, she was the youngest actor to receive the award.
She played an orphan in “Annie” in the 1982 film adapted from John Huston’s Broadway musical of the same name, with Aileen Quinn starring in the titular role.
In 1987 she played pregnant student Rhonda Altobello in “Summer School”, and the following year she portrayed Meg Penny in the remake of “The Blob,” the original being a Steve McQueen classic. Shawnee appeared in “Who’s Harry Crumb” as Nikki Downing in 1989, a rich teenager who helps John Candy find her sister after she was kidnapped.
She played May Cornell in the 1990 remake of Michael Cimino’s thriller “Desperate Hours”, in 1995 she had a minor role in “Leaving Las Vegas” as a Biker Girl, and also appeared in “Armageddon” in 1998.
From 2004-2010 she played Amanda Young in the “Saw” franchise, while apparently very ill from the flu.
She was pregnant with her second child (about four months along) when the filming of “Saw II” took place; at the time, only director Darren Lynn Bousman knew about her pregnancy, Shawnee’s daughter accidentally telling him about the pregnancy. Although she was never on set during “Saw IV” and “Saw V,” she was still featured in them thanks to footage from previous movies that were never used. On 20 March 2009, Mark Burg, the producer of “Saw VI,” announced that Shawnee would appear in the film. Shawnee has admitted that she cannot watch the “Saw” movies because she doesn’t enjoy horror movies. In fact, she initially turned down her role as Amanda, ‘I don’t like to see a scary image because it sticks in my mind.
Which is maybe why I get hired to do the scary movies because I’m truly scared and upset.’ After she turned the role down, she was shown a short film by James Wan and Leigh Whannell that was eight minutes long – she was offered the role for the second time and accepted. In 2004 she was part of the “Saw” panel alongside Costas Mandylor and Cary Elwes at the Texas Frightmare Weekend convention in Dallas. In 2007 she was nominated in the Most Vile Villain category at the Spike TV Scream Awards along with Tobin Bell, her co-star in “Saw IV.”
In 2006 Shawnee appeared in “Repo! The Genetic Opera,” a 10-minute film trailer directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, playing Heather Sweet, the daughter of Rotti Largo, who was the president of GeneCo.
Heather was addicted to plastic surgery. The film was adapted from the stage version and filmed in Toronto, Ontario. They shot the trailer after “Saw III” and wanted to pitch the film to producers. In 2007 the film was picked up by Twisted Pictures and Lionsgate, but Shawnee was replaced by Paris Hilton.
She played a child psychiatrist, Dr. Sullivan, in “The Grudge 3” in 2009. The film was released on 21 May 2009 straight to DVD.
Shawnee portrayed Carol in the television film “Not My Kid.” That year she also appeared in another television film, “Crime of Innocence” as Jodi Hayward. Her performance earned her the Youth in Film Award for Best Actress in a Television Film.
From 1989 to 1990, she played Amanda Gibbons in the short-lived series “Brand New Life.” The series co-starred Barbara Eden and Jennie Garth.
She played Julie Lawry in “The Stand” in the 1994 mini-series based on Stephen King’s eponymous novel, then appeared in the CBS sitcom “Becker”, as Linda from 1998 to 2004.
She guest starred in several series such as “Cagney & Lacey” in 1985, as Jill Cleveland in 1993 in “Murder, She Wrote,” as Jessie O’Neil in “The X-Files” in 1994 and as Lila in “Players” in 1998. She voiced Vivian Porter in a 2003 episode of “Kim Possible” on Disney Channel.
In 2008 she played Detective Gina Harcourt in “30 Days of Night: Dust to Dust.”
— Shawnee Smith (@shawneesmith) August 19, 2019
The series premiered on 17 July 2008 on FEARnet.com – it comprised six webisodes and behind-the-scenes clips. The series was a sequel to “30 Days of Night: Blood Trails.” And Shawnee’s producing debut, with her as an executive producer on the series.
In 2008 Shawnee hosted the VH1 reality series “Scream Queens,” and was one of the three mentors – the show aired from 20 October 2008 to 8 December 2008, after which Jaime King replaced Shawnee after she chose not to return for season two due to her conflicting schedule.
She guest-appeared as Carrie Costigan in 2010’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.” She played Trudy in the premiere episode of “Law & Order: Los Angeles” in 2010. From 2012 to 2014, she portrayed Jennifer Goodson in “Anger Management.” Her character is the ex-wife of Charlie Sheen’s character, Charlie Goodson.
Shawnee sings and plays the piano, drums, and guitar. She sang on Hydrovibe’s song “Killer Inside” which was played in “Saw III.” She is also the solo vocalist on “Please Myself” which played in “Catacombs”, and voiced Sandra in the movie “Carnival of Souls,” in which she also sang the jazz song, “I Fear,” as her character.
She fronted the metal/punk band Fydolla Ho from the early 2000s; the band was named after Chris Rock’s character in the 1988 film “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.” Shawnee formed the group with Rick Battson, the guitarist for Suicidal Tendencies, Robert Trujillo, the bassist for Metallica, and Benji Webbe, the vocalist for Skindred. In December 2001, they released “Untied,” their debut full-length album.
They toured the United Kingdom and the United States and released two EPs before splitting in 2004. While she was in the band, Shawnee was also acting in “Becker.”
In 2004 she began working with Chris Goss, a music producer on her first solo album, but never completed it. In October 2005, she was interviewed by Radio Free, and said, ‘…between being a mom, and working, and growing another baby, I have not had time to give attention to music for a while.’
Along with fellow actress Missi Pyle, she formed country-rock duo Smith & Pyle. They met while filming the pilot entitled “Traveling in Packs” for an ABC comedy, and formed after Shawnee invited Missi to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
In July 2008, they released their debut album “It’s OK to Be Happy” through Amazon.com and iTunes, produced by Chris Goss. Shawnee and Missi worked together as business partners to start the record label, Urban Prairie Records, but broke up in 2011 before their second album was completed. In 2013 while promoting “Anger Management,” Shawnee explained that she decided she instead wanted to focus on her children and acting.
In 1998 she married documentary maker and photographer Jason Reposar; the pair eloped in Scotland while they were on vacation.
— 🌟🌟Jessie🌟🌟 (@JessiBlue82) November 6, 2017
Together they have a daughter, Verve, who was named after Verve Records, but divorced in 2003 – Shawnee wrote “Sugar” after their divorce, and described it as her breakup song. She added that it is very different from “I Wish You Were Dead,” which is Pyle’s other breakup song. “Sugar” was recorded and is performed by Smith & Pyle.
In 2004 she briefly dated Kerry Cantrell, but in 2005 she married musician Kai Mattoon, then they divorced a year later, during which Shawnee gave birth to their son, Jackson. Both Verve and Jackson were featured on “It’s OK to Be Happy,” Smith & Pyle’s debut album. They were credited for spoken narratives and vocals in two songs on the album.
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She has dated music crew member and composer, Cleto Escobedo III, but they are no longer together. In March 2010, Shawnee gave birth to her second son, but hasn’t shared his name or the identity of his father, nor are there rumors as to who he might be. She home-schools all three of her children.
In 2014 she converted from Lutheranism to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, after which she expressed her regret about appearing in Maxim magazine’s June 2001 issue. She said that even though 80% of the time she is recognized is due to her photos in the magazine, she wishes she had not done them. Shawnee has spoken about wanting to make a documentary about Orthodoxy and her conversion, which would be called “Orthodoxy: A Love Story.”
Hobbies, favorite things, and interesting facts
- In the early 1990s, she took a break from acting for three years, mainly due to her having a hard time finding jobs, as she was too old to continue playing teenagers.
- Shawnee is often referred to as a ‘scream queen’ due to her tendency to act in horror films.
- She has said that she still gets recognized as Meg Penny by fans. Meg was her character in “The Blob” in 1988, and she enjoys and appreciates the recognition.
- She is good friends with Tammy Lauren, her co-star in 1985’s “Crime of Innocence” and 1988’s “I Saw What You Did.”
- She joined the Screen Actors Guild when she was nine.
Shawnee has dark brown hair and brown eyes. She is 5ft 3ins (1.6m) tall, weighs 115lbs (52kgs), and her vital statistics are 34-24-32.
Net worth and salary
Her net worth is estimated at $3 million, as od mid-2020.