Janet Smollett Reflects on How She Prioritized Building A Close Family & Being A Mother Of 6

Janet Smollett family

Janet Smollett is an amazing mom. She’s famous for being a great role model to her kids: Jussie, Jojo, Jake, Jocqui, Jurnee, and Jazz Smollett. She’s always supported their careers in the entertainment industry.

She used to make them put on shows at home, turning birthdays and Mother’s Days into big performances with singing, poetry, and dance. It was like their own little talent show.

After the six Smollett siblings appeared on an ABC comedy show in the mid-1990s, they even rebuilt their home to make it feel like the show.

Mr. Smollett said their family was a mix of the von Trapps, Huxtables, and Swiss Family Robinson, meaning they were talented, close-knit, and adventurous.

The Homophobic and Racial Attack

Since reporting a homophobic and racial attack against him in Chicago in January, Jussie Smollett’s name has been all over the news.

Smollett was ultimately charged with 16 felony offences for allegedly lying about the attack on March 8, but his family stood by him and insisted on his innocence.

“Our son and brother are an innocent man whose name and character has been unjustly smeared,” his family said after Jussie Smollett’s charges were dropped earlier this week.

 Jussie is a son, a brother, a partner, a human rights advocate, and a true soul who would never be capable of the crimes for which he was wrongly accused.”

Profile summary

Janet has five other children, all named Jurnee, Jake, Jazz, Jocqui, and Jojo, all of them are named after her late husband, Joel: Jurnee, Jake, Jazz, Jocqui, and Jojo.

The oldest Smollett sibling is Jojo, while the youngest is Jocqui; Jussie is the third oldest Smollett sibling. Jurnee Smollett-Bell is a television actress who has been in shows such as True Blood, Parenthood, and Underground.

Jazz works for Jussie and Jurnee’s production company (though her Instagram account calls her a “Mom + Food/Lifestyle Author, Blogger, & Personality”), Jake is a chef, Jocqui works for a tech firm, and JoJo works for a non-profit, according to the New York Times.

The Family Table: Recipes and Moments from a Nomadic Life

In 2018, Jazz, Jake, Jurnee, and Jussie collaborated on a cookbook, The Family Table: Recipes and Moments from a Nomadic Life, in commemoration of the food-centric traditions their mother insisted on upholding despite their family’s thirteen moves across the United States. Janet’s efforts to keep her family linked through shared meals are reflected in the cookbook’s description:

The Family Table: Recipes and Moments from a Nomadic Life

“No matter where they lived, two things remained constant: their incredible family feasts and the long, wooden kitchen table where they shared food and lived their lives. Each time they arrived in a new home; their mother would transform planks of hard wood into a smooth, varnished butcher block table in a beloved ritual that took three days. That hand-crafted table would become the heart of the Smollett clan, where the most important and cherished events and accomplishments, no matter how large or small, were honored, and where holidays were celebrated… With a mother from New Orleans and a Jewish father from New York who met and married in California, the Smollett kids were exposed to diverse culinary heritages and grew up open to all the deliciousness the world had to offer.”

Janet battled for civil rights in the Bay Area with Jussie’s father, Joel, according to the New York Times.

“My mom participated in the movement with Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, and one of her first mentors was Julian Bond,” Jussie said. Angela Davis is still one of her closest pals. Angela and I spent Mother’s Day together.”

Janet’s commitment to becoming an activist for causes she believes in has rubbed off on her children, who, according to the New York Times, speak out on issues such as HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating apartheid, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Jussie & Jurnee Says That Janett Smolett Was Their Sole Acting Coach

In a 2016 interview with the New York Times, Jussie and Jurnee discussed how their mother promoted creativity in their family, recalling how “everyone would have to come up and sing” at birthdays and Mother’s Days.

Jussie & Jurnee Says That Janett Smolett Was Their Sole Acting Coach

It’s no wonder, then, that their comfort in front of the camera led to all six children being cast together in the ABC sitcom On Our Own, which ran for one season.

They also disclosed that their mother is their “sole acting coach,” thanks to the vintage films she introduced them to as they grew up.

“She calls me every single Wednesday,” Jussie told Billboard, “and I know that we have to stay on the phone for at least 30 minutes to an hour just to hear her break down what Cookie did, what the brothers did, which song was her favourite, you know?” As a result, it’s a lot of fun! Having fun is a plus.”

Janet Smollett Lost Her Husband to Cancer

They moved their family of eight back and forth through the country on several occasions while they educated their six children together. Cancer claimed Joel’s life on January 7, 2015, at the age of 58 years old.

Janet Smollett Lost Her Husband to Cancer

Jesse uploaded a vintage photo of him and his father on Instagram after Joel’s death, writing: “My family lost our king but we got a holy angel yesterday, January 7, 2015. Until your final breath, you displayed the highest level of courage and decency. The fact is, you’re not only a fighter… This is your year, and you are the CHAMP. “Daddy was here to assist transition us into the world,” your oldest daughter @jazzsmollettwarwell said, as I try to make sense of our own pain.

The fact that we can help him transition out of this world is a blessing in itself. “I adore and respect you, and I’m proud to be your friend.”As long as I am your son, I will continue to do my best to make you proud. You will continue to exist. You’re going to fly high, dad.”

It Was Rumored That Janet Smollett Was Related to Kamala Harris

The fact that Janet’s maiden name is Harris sparked a rumor that both she and Kamala Harris might have a connection. After the authorities suspected Jussie of fabricating his alleged hate crime, social media conspiracy theories linked Harris to Jussie, however according to FactCheck.org, those beliefs are unfounded; they note that Kamala Harris is only related to one sibling, named Maya.

Harris called the alleged incident “a modern-day lynching” when it was originally revealed in January. When reports were released and it indicated that Smollett allegedly faked the attack, and Harris was “sad, frustrated, and disappointed,” underscoring the importance of filing a false claim to police while reiterating that hate crimes are a significant issue.


The Smollett’s have indeed been vocal on political issues and have also been committed to causes like HIV/AIDS prevention as well as the abolition of apartheid since they were in high school.

They grew up in the Black Panthers’ orbit and also have recently dedicated their voices to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Their journey from young actors to successful adults is shaped by their mother’s activism past.

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