J. Smith-Cameron, born in Louisville, Kentucky, is an American actress who plays the role of Melinda Mickens on the HBO original series True Blood. Making her debut on the episode "Beautifully Broken" in the series' third season, J. Smith-Cameron is a guest starring actress who plays the role of a shapeshifter who is mother to two shapeshifter sons, Tommy Mickens and Sam Merlotte. Playing a recurring role through the series' third and fourth seasons, J. Smith-Cameron was last seen in the Season 4 episode "Me and the Devil".
Gifted stage actress J. Smith-Cameron was born Jeanie Smith in Louisville, Kentucky, and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, the daughter of an architect. Known simply as J. Smith by us students of the Florida State University School of Theatre program in the mid-1970s; I was privileged to work with and witness firsthand the extent of J.'s talent early in the game. A very slender figure with tight, curly hair and intent, hooded eyes, she showed amazing potential back then. Despite her age, she made a dazzling young Anne Frank in "The Diary of Anne Frank" and an equally touching and memorable Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker." She was a wonderfully bizarre Honey in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and showed off her versatility in an all-female version of Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew." J.'s older sister, Joann, also attended FSU at the time and performed with me in a production of the classic Iranian allegory "The Butterfly" (Shaparak Khanoom) by Bijan Mofid, directed by his actor/brother Ardavan. Joann later became a teacher.
J. made her film debut while at FSU, starring in the acclaimed low budget production of Gal Young 'Un (1979) directed by Victor Nunez who later helmed Ulee's Gold (1997). The film, which was shot in Florida, starred and featured several fellow FSU alumni including David Peck, Marc H. Glick, Tim McCormack, Gil Lazier (FSU acting teacher), and Randy Ser (who later won an Emmy as production designer for the Whitney Houston version of Cinderella (1997) (TV)). The film would not be released until a few years later in 1979, years after they all graduated. Following college, J. Smith added the hyphenated Cameron name to her moniker as both a tribute to her great-grandmother and in order to avoid confusion once she joined Actor's Equity. Her peers in college all knew it wouldn't take long for J. to establish herself.
A remarkably unique and impressionable lady both on and off stage, J. has the requisite flair for playing neurotic, off-the-wall characters, both comedic and tragic. Abnormality has been a specialty on her menu and most often the delightful main course. By 1982, J. was showcasing on Broadway as the crazy, suicidal Babe in Beth Henley's "Crimes of the Heart." She never had to look back. In the course of her veteran on- and off-Broadway career, J. has received a Tony nomination for "Our Country's Good" (1991), an Outer Critics Circle award for "Lend Me a Tenor" (1989) and an Obie award for her flashy, no-holds-barred portrayal in "As Bees in Honey Drown" (1997). Other successes have included "Wild Honey," "Tartuffe," "The Memory of Water," and "Night Must Fall" with Matthew Broderick.
Although TV and film stardom has eclipsed her thus far, she has shown that even in the smallest role she can draw attention to herself, as witnessed by her hysterically funny bit as a sexual compulsive in the gay film Jeffrey (1995). She has played various mom parts, some more stable than others, in such films as Harriet the Spy (1996), and The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999). J. met and later married playwright/film writer Kenneth Lonergan. She was featured as Mabel, the secretary, in Lonergan's Oscar-nominated breakthrough play-turned-film You Can Count on Me (2000), which made film stars out of Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo. J. and Kenneth have a daughter, Nellie. The diverse range of her talent is what still separates J. from the rest of the pack, and should certainly serve her well for years to come.
- 84 Charing Cross Road (1987)
- A Modern Affair (1995)
- Harriet the Spy (1996)
- The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999)
- A Very Serious Person (2006)
- Margaret (2011)
- The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd" (1990-1991)
- Law & Order (1992-2009)
- True Blood (2010-2011)
|Season three appearances|
|"Bad Blood"||"Beautifully Broken"||"It Hurts Me Too"||"9 Crimes"|
|"Trouble"||"I Got a Right to Sing the Blues"||"Hitting the Ground"||"Night on the Sun"|
|"Everything Is Broken"||"I Smell a Rat"||"Fresh Blood"||"Evil is Going On"|
|Season four appearances|
|"She's Not There"||"You Smell Like Dinner"||"If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin'?"||"I'm Alive and on Fire"|
|"Me and the Devil"||"I Wish I Was the Moon"||"Cold Grey Light of Dawn"||"Spellbound"|
|"Let's Get Out of Here"||"Burning Down the House"||"Soul of Fire"||"And When I Die"|