If you’ve been tuning into AMC’s NOS4A2, you may have recognized the actress playing the purple-haired librarian Maggie Leigh. Jahkara Smith has made a name for herself with funny YouTube videos and tweets full of witty commentary on pop culture, social issues, and more.
Now, Smith is aiming to take over our television screens, making her TV debut in the thrilling supernatural drama.
NOS4A2, based on the novel of the same name by Joe Hill, sees Smith’s Maggie teaming up with Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings) to use their supernatural abilities—Maggie uses Scrabble tiles to look into the universe—to track Charlie Manx (Zachary Quinto), a somewhat immortal being who feeds off of the souls of children.
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It was announced last summer that Smith had landed the role, but funnily enough the actress and YouTube personality wasn’t quite sure she’d ever land a role in Hollywood because of…her teeth.
“I honestly didn’t ever think I would get hired because of my teeth,” she laughs while speaking with ESSENCE. “I had a cross-bite at the time, and I was like, ‘Oh yeah. If you’re on TV or movies or whatever, you look a certain way.’ So it’s kind of nice to get hired because I was funny and not because I was pretty. That kind of changed my perspective on the whole industry.”
She’s since gotten her bite realigned “because it was messing with my jaw,” but told the dentist that she wanted to keep her “little snaggletooth.”
Put real people on screens and then real people at home will understand there’s nothing wrong with them.
“It’s kind of part of my ideal or whatever, and I just feel like it makes people look more realistic. Put real people on screens and then real people at home will understand there’s nothing wrong with them—like at all.”
Along with NOS4A2, AMC has become home to a slew of other tense, terrifying dramas including The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, and Preacher.
The network is just one of many giving audiences the scares and thrills they want.
When asked if there’s a supernatural being she’d like to play or be, Smith volunteered to be a succubus.
“Listen, all you have to do is show up and then leave in the morning refreshed, all right? Nobody knows where the f–k you went. Nobody is looking for you, and you leave with glowing skin. It’s that simple. You just live forever feeding off of the souls of men. I feel like that’d be pretty lit.”
Smith is sharp and funny, much like she is in the videos she posts to YouTube. And she’s incredibly open, which has helped her connect with her many fans.
When asked about how her relationship with herself has changed since becoming more recognizable through her work and social media, Smith said its helped her “established my sense of identity.”
After facing tons of difficulty growing up and later joining the military to escape a bad situation, Smith is now working to make space for herself and avoid toxicity.
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“I am not in a relationship anymore. I’m not in the military anymore. I don’t talk to my parents. It’s just me. But having done it and…having to do shit on my own, I feel like it has made me so much more confident in myself than I was before,” she explained.
Despite Smith’s recent success, she wants to remind her fans that she doesn’t have it all together.
“People talk to me all the time and they’re like, ‘You have this together and you have that together,’ and I’m like, ‘Girl, you have no idea. I’m drowning.’ To other people, I’m doing great,” she said, adding that the comments make her “reflect on your own perceptions of other people.”