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WRITING

Z Nation's Kellita Smith Talks The Greatness Of Bernie Mac, Love For The Raiders

SYFY’s hit show, Z Nation stars Kellita Smith as former National Guard Lieutenant Roberta Warren.

Viewers follow Lieutenant Warren as she travels with a band of survivors through a zombie apocalypse in an attempt to safely transport mankind’s last chance at survival.

Smith made history by being the first African-American female lead on an SYFY series.

Though Smith is known for her comedy career (The Bernie Mac Show) began her acting career on the stage in the regional production of Tell It Like. And over the years has since been able to do both.

“I was fortunate to do most of my comedy on television but most of my drama was in the theater. I have more awards in the theater than I do on television. So, I’ve been able to do both. The great thing as of 10 years or so or more I've been able to work those drama shows, and a comedy show simultaneously. While I was shooting Z Nation, I was also shooting In The Cut, says Smith. 

Aside from her work in theater, Smith also starred as First Lady Katherine Johnson on The First Family and on Bounce TV’s In the Cut. Not to mention countless recurring and guest roles on iconic shows such as Martin, Living Single, Sister, Sister, and more.

Her feature films also include Hair Show, opposite Oscar award-winning actress Mo’Nique, Roll Bounce and Three Can Play That Game.

Smith style and range have won her countless awards including a BET Comedy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress on FOX’s Peabody and Emmy award-winning comedy series The Bernie Mac Show based off Bernie Mac’s stand-up comedy and his unique take on parenthood.

The series was a pioneer in its own right and was one of the first American television shows to utilize the fourth wall; the series ran for five seasons.

Bernie sadly passed away August 9, 2008, from complications of pneumonia. But while the comedian may be gone, his life and legacy will never be forgotten, a legacy Smith still reflects on.

“I mean we miss him. He's truly missed by me and the kids. It was a great experience. And again, it was another groundbreaking situation. You know we were able to do some things on television which now shows are patterning themselves after us like Modern Family and Black-ish.”, says Smith.

“They fought Bernie tooth and nail about that and that’s what people need to understand. Bernie stood his ground and had he not, those shows may not be on the air today.”

Yet Smith’s range and interest go beyond the acting field. Having been raised in Oakland, California, the self-proclaimed football babe is not ashamed to rep her home team, the Oakland Raiders.

“One of the things I really love about football what I love about sports is that this is the one vehicle that will bring a diversity of people together, believing in the one thing and that's winning. I love being in a stadium where there are multiple cultures agreeing to win. It’s the best thing to look at, it’s beautiful. It's their agility it's there is they're coming together as men and choosing to win.”

As an avid fan of football and of especially black quarterbacks, Smith recalled watching a Redskins game in which Joe Theismann broke his leg and how a benched Doug Williams scored four touchdowns in that quarter, getting his team the win they needed.

“I saw [him] at the Kentucky Derby once and I replayed all his touchdowns. I knew all his business, all of it,” Smith said.

“I want to be a sports commentator so bad. I want to be the Charles Barkley of it. I don’t want to polite, forget all that. I want to keep it real!” Adding, “Yes, I love the sport, it’s metaphoric in so many ways. It gets to the point where it starts to be beautiful. I have guys ask me, ‘are you going to watch the game’ I say, yes, and if you’re going to come over here and talk don’t come.”

“It’s an opportunity to come together and really rally for a victory, a win. It’s courage, it’s will, it’s everything we embody.”

You can catch Kellita Smith killing zombies and doing all her own stunts on Z Nation now streaming on Netflix and OnDemand. And you can also catch Smith on In The Cut only on Bounce TV.