Who Is Celina Smith? All About the 'Annie Live!' Star (2024)

Watch out, world: Celina Smith is going places!

The rising star stole the show as Annie in NBC's musical television specialAnnie Live!, which aired on Dec. 2, 2021. Beating out numerous other young hopefuls for the role in a nationwide search, Smith was firstannounced as the title characterin August 2021.

"It's an honor to follow in the footsteps of the talented young ladies who have played Annie before me, and I can't wait to start this journey," Smith said in a statement at the time,per Deadline.

Landing the role based on the famousLittle Orphan Anniecomic strip placed Smith among various other actresses whomade their mark as Anniebefore her, includingSarah Jessica Parkerin the 1979 Broadway musical production; Alicia Morton in the 1999 film; andQuvenzhané Wallisin the 2014 movie adaptation.

While Smithcaptivated audiences with her performancealongsideTaraji P. HensonandHarry Connick Jr., this isn't her first time in the spotlight. In fact, she got her start in another notable musical.

Annie Live!: How the NBC Production Starring Harry Connick Jr., Taraji P. Henson Was Pulled Off

So, who is Celina Smith? Here's everything to know about the burgeoning actress.

She was born and raised in Atlanta

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While filming forAnnie Live!took place in New York,according to 11Alive, Smith hails from Atlanta and comes from a supportive family.

"My mom and my dad have helped my career by giving up so much so that I can do what I love," shetoldInBetweenmagazinein 2021. "My mom toured with me for over a year. My dad would fly out to visit us on the road. They let me try different things, like gymnastics and performing arts camp, to discover what I love to do. It turned out to be performing because my cartwheels — well, let's just say I made my gymnastics teacher and classmates laugh … a lot! My whole family, my sisters, Jessica and Maia, are just super supportive."

She's been performing since she was 7

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Smith got her start singing at an entertainment camp calledAGI Entertainment. Since then, she has not only traveled across the country playing Young Nala on the national tour ofThe Lion King, but Smith has also taken on various television projects.

Some of her small-screen credits include ABC's 2021 coming-of-age comedy seriesThe Wonder Years(inspired by the 1988 sitcom of the same name), Nickelodeon'sThat Girl Lay LayandTyler Perry's Young Dylan, appearing in over 40 episodes.

Smith made her film acting debut in 2023, starring in the DeShon Hardy-directed BET+ original movieUnder the Influence.

She looks up to Marsai Martin

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While discussing her acting inspirations in a 2021 interview withYoung Entertainment Magazine, Smith listed three notable stars.

"I loveViola Davis,Angela BassettandMarsai Martinbecause they have all accomplished so many things, and they're such great actresses," she told the publication. "I love whatMarsai did withLittle. I hope that I can make them proud and meet Mrs. Davis and Mrs. Bassett one day!"

Despite her youth, she's already developed a good work ethic. When asked what it takes to be a great performer, she told the outlet: "I mean it definitely takes patience, as I said, but also integrity. Because the journey is hard. So, you reaaaaaally have to want it, and people don't always see the hard work behind the scenes."

She is a huge fan of Billie Eilish

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As if her star turn in the Christmas musical wasn't indicative of her talent already, Smith is just as gifted a singer as she is an actress. One of her singing inspirations happens to beBillie Eilish; she revealed as much during a 2021 interview withBrief Takemagazine.

In fact, Smith is such an admirer of theGrammyand Oscar-winning singer-songwriter that she put her vocal chops to the test with an impressive cover of Eilish's "My Future" on her personal YouTube channel, which has garnered over 17,000 views. She's also covered songs likeMeghan Trainor's "Hurt Me" andLizzo's "2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)."

She already knows what she wants to do next in her career

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Smith may be young, but she already has a clear vision for her career in the next five years. In addition to doing more movies, Smith said another famous — and funny — actress has inspired her to pursue comedy, tellingYoung Entertainment Magazine: "I really want to be a comedian likeTiffany Haddish; my parents watch her, and I always hear them crying laughing when I'm in my room trying TO SLEEP!"

In addition to naming actresses like Henson and Martin, Smithtold Digital Journalin 2021 that another of her dream acting partners isWill Smith.

Who Is Celina Smith? All About the 'Annie Live!' Star (2024)
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