Anna Deavere Smith is an American actress best known for her starring role as hospital administrator Gloria Akalitus in the dark comedy television series Nurse Jackie.
Smith has performed in film and television as well as on stage. She is recognizable in popular culture as Nancy McNally, the National Security Advisor on The West Wing. However, it is Smith's work in the theatre that has been her intellectual focus.
Smith performed Twilight: Los Angeles around the U.S. and on Broadway. It received two Tony nominations, an Obie, a Drama Desk Award, a Special Citation from the New York Drama Critics and numerous other honours.
President and Mrs. Clinton and Vice President Al Gore attended her Washington, D.C. performance. She produced, wrote and performed the movie version of Twilight: Los Angeles for PBS.
Another of her plays, Fires In The Mirror, examined a race riot that occurred in Crown Heights, Brooklyn (1991) when age-old racial tensions between Black and Jewish neighbours exploded.
It received an Obie Award, numerous other awards and was a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize. She performed the play around the U.S., in London and Australia. The film version of Fires In The Mirror was also broadcast on PBS.
Smith starred in the highly acclaimed On The Road series called Let Me Down Easy at the Second Stage Theater in New York. The subject is the resilience and vulnerability of the human body. This play was inspired by work she did at the Yale School of Medicine, where she was Visiting Professor.
Smith has been featured in several films including The American President, The Human Stain, Dave and Rent. She was a regular on the CBS series Presidio Med, and had a recurring role on The Practice. She also starred in the independent film Rachel Getting Married, starring Anne Hathaway.
In 2007, Americans for the Arts presented her with the Kitty Carlisle Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts. Smith also received the Mayor's Award for Art and Culture by the Mayor of New York City in 2007.
She was the recipient of the Alphonse Fletcher Fellowship in 2006. The fellowship recognizes work by scholars, writers and artists who address and carry out the broad social goals of the Brown v. Board Supreme Court decision of 1954.
She was twice nominated for the NAACP Image Award. She received the prestigious New York Women in Communication's Matrix Award for her achievements and outstanding leadership roles in her field in spring 2008.