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Jimmy Smits stars in the NBC drama "Outlaw," portraying former Supreme Court Justice Cyrus Garza, a playboy and a gambler who always adhered to a strict interpretation of the law until he realized the system he believed in was flawed. Now, he's quit the bench and returned to private practice. Determined to do things his way, Garza uses his inside knowledge of the justice system to take on today's biggest legal cases, and he's making plenty of powerful people unhappy along the way. Smits serves as a co-executive producer on the show.
Proving that versatility is as important as skill in the acting profession, Smits has built a career that allows him to move effortlessly between film, television and stage. The Emmy- and Golden Globe Award-winning actor continues to effectively navigate towards his goal of making quality television and film.
Smits also co-stars in Rodrigo Garcia's feature film "Mother and Child," in the role of Paco, a patient and caring man who sees through the tough exterior of Annette Bening's character, Karen. Smits also recently narrated the PBS documentary series "Latin Music USA," which provides the audience with a compelling look at the fusion of Latin sounds with jazz, rock, country, rhythm and blues - essentially a comprehensive view of American musical history, reaching across time and across musical genres to embrace the exciting hybrid sounds created by Latinos.
Smits has enjoyed an exemplary television career. In 2009, Smits finished a guest-starring stint in Season 3 of Showtime's hit series "Dexter," where his critically acclaimed portrayal of Assistant District Attorney Miguel Prado was recognized with an Emmy nomination - his 12th - for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, as well as an Imagen Award nomination. In 2008, Smits' El Sendero Productions company co-executive produced the series "Cane," in which he also starred. The show was critically acclaimed for its cutting-edge, dramatic reflection of the family dynamic within a modern-day Cuban-American family. In 2006, Smits completed his role in the long-running and critically acclaimed NBC series "The West Wing." As President Matthew Santos, Smits brought to the show his own infusion of energy and added even more depth to the well-written and politically relevant plotline. Smits was also seen in HBO's multiple award-winning television movie "Lackawanna Blues," George C. Wolfe's colorful tale of boarding house life, love and blues in 1950s New York. Smits has also hosted PBS' "A Capitol Fourth," a live concert event on the Capitol lawn, for the last three years. Other television credits include "The Broken Cord," "The Tommyknockers," "The Cisco Kid," and "Marshal Law."
He received six consecutive Emmy nominations for his role as Victor Sifuentes on "L.A. Law," winning the Emmy in 1990, and also five Emmy nominations for his role as Bobby Simone on the critically acclaimed, Emmy-winning drama "NYPD Blue," and one nomination for his role as Miguel Prado on Showtime's "Dexter." Additionally, he received an ALMA Award and an Imagen Award for Best Actor in "West Wing," four Golden Globe nominations - winning as Actor in a Leading Role, Drama Series, in 1996 for his role in "NYPD Blue" – and eight SAG Award nominations. The episode featuring his highly touted departure from "NYPD Blue" also won the Humanitas Award.
Smits' film work includes Peter Hyams' "Running Scared" with Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal; John Schlesinger's "The Believers"; "Old Gringo" with Gregory Peck and Jane Fonda; Blake Edwards' comedy "Switch"; and the critically acclaimed "My Family/Mi Familia," directed by Gregory Nava, for which he received an IFP Spirit Award nomination. Smits' later works include Carlos Ávila's "Price of Glory"; Chuck Russell's thriller "Bless the Child"; George Lucas' "Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones" and "Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith"; Robin Swicord's "The Jane Austen Book Club"; and "El Traspatio (Backyard)," directed by Carlos Carrera.
Smits has a special fondness for the theater, having been born close to Broadway, the home of New York theatre. His introduction to acting was the theater, and it always calls to his heart to return home. He most recently starred on Broadway in the critically acclaimed hit "God of Carnage" (2009), but this was not his first foray in the theatre. In 2004, he starred as the romantic new arrival in a Cuban-American cigar factory in Nilo Cruz's Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Anna in the Tropics," preceded by New York Public Theatre's Shakespeare in the Park presentations of "Much Ado About Nothing" (2004) and "Twelfth Night" (2002), as well as a number of off-Broadway and regional theatre productions. Taking his dedication to the arts to the next level, he is also an active member of the New York Public Theater's Board of Directors.
In his free time, Smits has involved himself in various charitable organizations over the years, and has consistently been a strong advocate for education. In 1997, he co-founded the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts (NHFA), along with actors Esai Morales and Sonia Braga, and Washington attorney Felix Sanchez to promote Hispanic talent in the performing arts. The organization, which just celebrated its 13th anniversary, offers graduate scholarships and cash grants at prominent colleges and universities in order to expand career opportunities and increase access for Hispanic artists and professionals while fostering the emergence of new Hispanic talent. Other organizations Smits is involved with include Red Cross, New York Cares, Colorectal Cancer, St. Jude's Foundation, The Fulfillment Fund, United Way and more.
A second-generation American, Smits is a native of Brooklyn and traces his roots to Puerto Rico, as well as Surinam, South America, on his mother's and father's sides of the family respectively.