Whoosh! Issue 52 - January 2001

By Nina Knapp
Photographs by Margaret Dowling and Barbara Johnson
Content copyright ©2000 held by author
Whoosh! Edition copyright ©2000 held by Whoosh!
1201 words

DESTINY (01-06)

A Conversation With Ebonie Smith


[1] Ebonie Smith is:

I'm sooooo nervous! I know--I'll try to look charming. No, maybe it would be better to look humorous? No...I'll go for Interesting.  That's it!
Charming. Humorous. Interesting.

[2] Pasadena, 2000. The costume contest had just ended, and I found myself sitting across a small table from Ebonie Smith and her mother, Michelle. Our conversation began with her role as M'Lila in the XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS (XWP) episode, DESTINY (36/212). Smith stated that working on XENA was a wonderful experience: "Each episode of XENA is like a feature film. The production values are high, and the cast and crew are very dedicated. Everyone puts so much into the show."

[3] About her character, M'Lila: "M'Lila was a wonderful character to portray, and has become so popular with the fans of XENA. I've even been contacted by the German XENA Fan Club, and still find my pictures popping up on the Internet."

Look, Ma, I'm Whitney Houston!
Saturday Cabaret Fever

[4] As evidenced in the Saturday Night Cabaret, Smith has a lovely voice. "I have had nine years of formal training with a vocal coach," she explained. "We did a period piece when I was on WEBSTER. I got to sing and dance in that episode, and loved it. I would have liked to sing on DESTINY, but it was dubbed in with another singer."

I can't wait to get these $@#!! shoes off.
Cabaret: final song

[5] One of the reasons Smith enjoyed her relationship with Renaissance Pictures is that the company goes beyond ethnicity when casting actors for the various roles:

"One of my first acting jobs was for an ARCO commercial during the 1984 Olympics. I was about six years old, and the commercial had a number of girls my age running a sprint. My father had been a sprinter in the 1972 Olympics, so of course I wanted to show I could really run. So, in the first take I ran as fast as I could. However, that's not what the director wanted. He wanted the blonde to win. This has been a significant memory for me."

Please, PLEASE, don't anyone ask me what M'Lila's last name is!
Taking questions from center stage

[6] Smith stated she is very proud of her work on DESTINY, and working with a production company that affords creative opportunities to people of other ethnicities: "All types are reflected in XENA, and it's so important for children to find these role models in the popular culture."

Acting Career

[7] During the Question & Answer session at the Pasadena convention, Smith mentioned appearing in the TV series THE JEFFERSONS (1975-85). She has also appeared in WEBSTER (TV, 1983-87), GIMME A BREAK (TV, 1981-87), FAMILY MATTERS (TV, 1989-1998), and LIVING SINGLE (TV, 1993-98). She has appeared in the four LETHAL WEAPON action movies as Danny Glover's character's youngest daughter, Carrie Murtaugh, (at ages 9, 12, 13, and 20). Smith also appeared in the FOX-TV film on the life of Muhammad Ali, as Ali's second wife.

I could really go for a cheeseburger right now...
Q & A session from the convention stage

Time for an Education and Writing

[8] Smith recently completed her Fine Arts degree in Film Production and Chinese Language & Culture. She is very proud of her ability to speak the Mandarin language: "As you can imagine, with my area of study, I was very interested in the China episodes (for XENA). They were so well done. So beautiful."

[9] Smith made her education a priority, but she is very happy to be able to focus on her acting career again. Her mother, Michelle, a wonderfully charming woman, agreed: "I'm glad she's finished school and can now focus on her creative side of life."

[10] During the Q & A session, Smith mentioned she would like to take some time to write. She explained: "I would like to write screenplays, and maybe short stories...I love romantic dramas, although I am working on a screenplay with a sci-fi flavor right now...But I prefer love stories."

I think I could get to like this convention stuff!
Smith, convention volunteer Barbara Johnson,
and Smith's mother Michelle in the lobby

The Costume Contest

[11] Smith, Willa O'Neill, and Allyson Wall were the judges at the Pasadena Costume Contest. They all saw this event as being a very positive one for the fans. They were all surprised at the showing, the number of participants, and the quality of the costumes: "Judging was so hard! I wanted to give the full 15 points to everyone...It's good for the fans to have something like this to get excited about and look forward to."

Who IS this woman, and why is she wearing her underwear?
One of the costumed fans
Smith met was Deborah Abbott
(photograph courtesy of
Deborah Abbott)

First Fan Convention

[12] Smith had been invited to attend a XENA convention in 1999, but had been unable to attend. She was finding this event very exciting and interesting: "I am having so much fun with everyone, especially the fans. I appreciate the very warm reception they have given us [Smith and her mother]."

[13] Smith surprised fans after her Q & A session on stage by appearing in the lobby to interact with them. This does not happen often at Creation Entertainment Conventions.

So this is what it's like to be a star!
Relating one to one with fans

[14] When asked why, Smith stated she preferred being out there than backstage by herself: "Fans need that sharing with us, the opportunity to converse. The shows do not make it without the fans, and the actors who attend these conventions do a lot to help keep the fans charged up about the shows. You can't do that if you stay backstage."

[15] How would Ebonie Smith describe the fans? 'Kind,' 'sincere,' 'dedicated,' and 'enthusiastic' were among the adjectives she used. She laughed when told of Lucy Lawless referring to fans as "hard core nutballs". She said, "They're not crazy, just good. Their response to me has been great. It makes you feel good about your work as an actor."

Yeah, the Xena Con is definitely cool...
Smith, convention volunteer Margaret Dowling,
and Smith's mother Michelle in the lobby


nina knapp Nina Knapp

I have lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico for 21 years. I have published in small lesbian and political publications over the years, but currently working on a novel and a sci fi screenplay. I am the list owner for Alt-screenwriters@egroups, which is a discussion and critique group for writers whose goal is to become published (novelists) or produced (screenwriters).

Favorite episode: I loved the two-part ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE (69-70/401-402) as a dramatic episode, and FINS, FEMMES, AND GEMS (64/318) as a comedy.
Favorite line: Xena: "Come on, Gabrielle. Let's get wet!" FINS, FEMMES, AND GEMS (64/318)
First episode seen: I have been watching the show since its beginning and I saw Lucy as Xena and other characters on HTLJ. So, I guess I have watched XWP since THE WARRIOR PRINCESS (H09/109) on HTLJ.
Least favorite episode: MARRIED WITH FISHSTICKS (105/515). Need I say more?

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