Biography

Yeardley Smith is unarguably the keeper of one of Hollywood's most distinctive-sounding and instantly recognizable set of vocal chords; the Emmy-winning actress' most famous role is without question that of level-headed, suburban schoolgirl Lisa Simpson on the long-running animated television series The Simpsons. Though most of her live-action roles would come during the mid-'80s with such guilty pleasures as The Legend of Billie Jean and Maximum Overdrive, Smith remained active in front of the camera well into the new millennium with roles in such features as As Good As It Gets and such popular television series as Dharma & Greg. Born in Paris, France, Smith kicked off her acting career at Washington, D.C.'s Arena Stage before making the move to Broadway in Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing in 1984. A role in the after-school special Mom's on Strike marked the actress' first foray into television, and after graduating to features with a supporting role in the 1985 comedy Heaven Help Us, she gained notable exposure later that same year in the teen drama The Legend of Billie Jean. If the film failed to live up to the hype, Smith's performance (as a somewhat shy teen who discovers her own self-confidence after joining a teenage outlaw on the road) offered a scene-stealing turn that would overflow into the following year's much-maligned horror film Maximum Overdrive. A small supporting role in the 1987 teen comedy Three O'Clock High was quick to follow, and that same year, Smith would step behind the microphone for the role that would change her life. Originally conceived as a series of shorts made to run during The Tracey Ullman Show, The Simpsons proved so popular that it was soon given its very own series. Beginning in 1989, The Simpsons quickly became nothing less than a cultural phenomenon, with brother Bart's rebellious antics quickly making "Don't have a cow, man" the national catch phrase. As popular as the series was initially, few could have foreseen that it would go on to surpass The Flintstones as the longest-running animated prime-time series in the history of television. In the years that followed, Lisa would move to the forefront in many episodes, endearing her to a nation of television viewers. Though Smith would still make the occasional foray into features, with bit roles in City Slickers, Toys, Just Write, and As Good As It Gets, it was her role on The Simpsons that kept her busy throughout the 1990s and into the new millennium. Aside from voicing Lisa Simpson she didn't appear on-screen in the first decade of the 21st century, but she returned with bit parts in movies like HIGH School and New Year's Eve in 2010 and 2011. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi