What Jean Smart Really Wanted To Be When She Was Younger

Jean Smart has been wowing audiences on stage and screen for more than 30 years. She became a household name with her role on "Designing Women," and has gone on to steal scenes in shows including "Frasier," for which she won two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, "24," and "Samantha Who?," which earned her a third Emmy, this time for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (via IMDb). Her career hasn't slowed down over the decades, either, with critically-acclaimed roles in "Mare of Easttown," where she played Kate Winslet's mother, and the HBO Max series "Hacks," which sees Smart as standup comedian Deborah Vance. For that role, she won her first Emmy in a lead-actress comedy category. She also became the only actress aside from Betty White to win Emmys for guest actress in a comedy, supporting actress in a comedy, and lead actress in a comedy (via The Week)!

"I don't take any of what's happening for me right now for granted," Smart told The New Yorker. "I know that I've won the lottery. I know actors who are so extremely talented who just never got a good break. There's a small, small percentage of actors who get to make a living. And even a smaller percentage of them ever get the chance to show what they can do." 

And while Smart has never had a "civilian" job, some might be surprised that acting wasn't her first career choice.

Jean Smart always wanted to entertain people

Jean Smart has won plenty of accolades for her role in "Hacks," where she plays comedian Deborah Vance. And it all makes sense since Smart's first career choice growing up was to be a standup comedian. In fact, she once went to a school costume party dressed as Phyllis Diller. But she soon "realized very quickly how terrifying being a stand-up comic could be," as she told Town & Country, which led her to reconsider it as a career option. 

Smart explained that, while she enjoyed "making an audience laugh," comedy has its drawbacks as "it's obvious when you are failing." She compared the experience to acting in a drama saying if "the audience is silent — you don't know whether they're asleep or hanging on your every word." In comedy, however, "when you say something that's supposed to be funny on stage and there's no reaction, it's clear that you're blowing it."

Luckily, Smart has had plenty of success as an actress, and she has big plans for the future, telling The New Yorker that she would love to do a "big, historical ensemble," as well as take some time off "so people don't get sick of me!"