Macy's Celebrates Black History Month With Conversations with Actress Jurnee Smollet-Bell

Actress and activist Jurnee Smollet-Bell has been on our radar since she was a child and now Macy's is celebrating her spirit as a muse for the 2016 Black History Month. 

Jurnee sat down with journalist and fashion guru Constance White to pull back the curtain on what makes Jurnee so fabulous! 

Here is her Q and A:

selfieWhat best describes your style? Organic. I feel like my style is an extension of my personality. I dress according to my mood. When I’m lounging around I’m totally a bohemian hippie and love to wear things my mom would’ve worn in the ’70s. Or if I’m hosting a wine and cheese party at my house, I might turn up the elegance.
I kind of approach the costumes that my characters in film and TV wear in the same way. You can visually communicate so much about a character and personality through a necklace, a shoe, a torn stocking.

What items do you consider must haves? Flowing skirts, oversized pants, leather boots, leather jacket, black jeans.

Where did your interest in acting and performing come from? I come from a family of entertainers and artists. I have been in front of the camera since I was 10 months old, so I was kind of born into it.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received so far in your career? Quincy Jones once told me, “You cannot believe them when they tell you you’re great, because you’ll believe them when they tell you you’re not. You must know who you are, who God made you to be.”

If you could play an iconic figure in a biopic, who would it be? Lorraine Hansberry.

Who’s your style icon and why? Liya Kebede. I love how elegant and understated her style is. Not only is she a trailblazer in fashion, but she also uses her platform to advocate for women and children in Africa.
Bianca Jagger, Lena Horne, Jane Fonda, Cate Blanchett, Iman and Diana Ross can also do no wrong in my book. They all were trailblazers and left such a mark on the fashion world. And I was named after Diana Ross (my middle name) so she will always have a special place in my heart.

What are some current fashion trends you love?
• I love lady loafers. Not only are they chic, but they’re so comfortable.
• High-waisted pants, because they really give a nice silhouette.
• Plaid. Especially red. For me, it’s timeless.
• Wearing colorful printed stockings with a dress and casual shoes (boots/sneakers/sandals).

What do you love most about your heritage? I have a complex heritage: my mom is African American and my dad is Jewish. Both were activists and they met during the movement in the ’70s.

What’s the one thing you’ve learned from your grandparents or parents that you carry with you? They taught me to not compromise my values and morals, to not place a price tag on your art.

Who in your life inspires you the most? My mother. She comes from nothing and raised six kids. She’s the strongest woman I know.


Jurnee will be touring to Macy’s across the country to continue the conversation. See below dates and locations coming to a city near you and click here to RSVP. 

  • Macy's Herald Square, New York - Wednesday, February 3, 6pm
  • Macy's Center City, Philadelphia - Thursday, February 4, 5:30pm
  • Macy's State Street, Chicago - Wednesday, February 10, 5:30pm
  • Macy's Metro Center, Washington DC - Thursday, February 11, 5:30pm
  • Macy's Lenox Square, Atlanta - Friday, February 12, 7pm
  • Macy's Aventura, Aventura (Miami) - Saturday, February 13, 12pm
  • Macy's Union Square, San Francisco - Wednesday, February 17, 6pm
  • Macy's Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles - Thursday, February 18, 6:30pm