J. Smith-Cameron has been captivating audiences on stage since the ‘80s and ‘90s with Broadway productions such as Crimes of the Heart and Lend Me a Tenor. She continued this work with Broadway and Off-Broadway productions including After the Night and Fuddy Meers.
She also working on the small screen, beginning with Guiding Light, The Equalizer and The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd in the 1980s and 1990s through K-Street and True Blood in the 2000s. She broke big in 2013’s critically acclaimed Recify from Sundance TV and earned acting nominations for her film work in 2011’s Margaret and 2018’s Nancy before moving onto playing career driven business women involved in office relationships starting with Search Party and later on Succession, with guest spots Madam Secretary and The Good Wife and more in between.
Her newest success, HBO’s Emmy-winning drama series Succession, centers around the dysfunctional Roy family who run a global media and entertainment conglomerate, and are fighting for control of the company amid uncertainty regarding the health of their patriarch Logan’s health. In the series, J. Smith-Cameron plays, Gerri the savvy, calm, and collected lawyer with close ties, both personal and professional, to the family.
I recently spoke with J. Smith-Cameron about the third season of Succession. We discussed Gerri’s role in the series as an audience insert, Gerri’s romantic relationship with Logan’s son Roman, sex and gender politics, and J. Smith-Cameron’s work beyond the Succession.
Michael-Michelle Pratt: Before Rectify you were mostly on stage. What was it about Succession that intrigued you and made you want to continue this trajectory with television?
MMP: In Search Party, your character Mary Ferguson explores an office romance but in a comedy. What were the similarities and differences between Search Party and Succession dynamics?
MMP: The smartest people in the show are everyone who is not a part of the Roy family. What is it like to play an outsider that can get away with so much being on the peripheral and being a stand-in for the audience?
MMP: What were your feelings concerning Gerri’s season three storyline? How did you feel about Gerri and Roman’s relationship taking such a concrete turn?
MMP: As Gerri’s relationship with Roman is on the decline and goes through with the GoJo deal, would you say she has done a complete reverse or still feels that same confidence?
MMP: In season three episode 8, Shiv tries to pressure Gerri to lodge a formal complaint to human resources against Roman for the dick pics, otherwise, it’ll seem like she “welcomed the sexual harassment.” This scene showcased the ways women still must contend with patriarchal notions when at the level of being a CEO. As Gerri has become a series regular, her personal goals have become more interwoven into the show, but sexism and misogyny are still present. What were your feelings about this display of power dynamics and sex politics?
MMP: So much of Gerri’s backstory from the reasoning for her adult daughters and her drink of choice seems to come from you. What has been your favorite character choice included in the show? Can you share any choices for the fourth season?
J. Smith Cameron is Emmy eligible for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for season three of Succession.
This video interview has been edited for clarity.
Photo: Macall B. Polay/HBO