Jean Smart brings home her fourth win at the Emmys 2021—so who is the award-winning star?

The Hacks actress has also become one of the oldest female Emmy award winners in her category

 Jean Smart from 'Hacks' appears at the 73RD EMMY AWARDS, broadcast Sunday, Sept. 19 (8:00-11:00 PM, live ET/5:00-8:00 PM, live PT) on the CBS Television Network and available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.
(Image credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images)

Actress Jean Smart was anything but a Hack during Sunday night's Emmys 2021. The 70-year-old was not only welcomed to the stage with the first standing ovation of the night but also became the second oldest female to win in her category.

The night was bittersweet for Jean as she celebrated her fourth career Emmy win. Many predicted that Ted Lasso won big at Emmys 2021, but Jean's performance as a washed-up comedian in HBO's Hacks didn't go unnoticed. The show landed a hattrick—winning outstanding writing for a comedy series and outstanding direction for a comedy series, along with Jean's big win for best actress in a comedy series too.

In her acceptance speech, she expressed her gratitude towards her two sons (one of whom joined her that night on the red carpet). She also made sure to mention her late husband who had passed away only six months ago due to an illness.

“I would not be here without him,” she said, choking back tears. 


Jean Smart from 'Mare of Easttown' attends the 73RD EMMY AWARDS on Sunday, Sept. 19 (8:00-11:00 PM, live ET/5:00-8:00 PM, live PT) on the CBS Television Network and available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

(Image credit: Francis Specker/CBS via Getty Images)

What other roles has Jean Smart played?

Hacks wasn't the only show she earned recognition for, the actress was also nominated for another big hit show: HBO crime drama Mare of Easttown. She's played numerous roles throughout the years, but this year it looks like she struck gold with two hit HBO shows. 

Hacks saw Jean as a washed-up comedian looking for fresh content, but in Mare of Easttown, she played Kate Winslett's live-in mother who dealt with the struggles of an overworked small-town detective.

In the past, Jean has also played in 2014's Fargo, the 90's sitcom Frasier, and the 2001 drama series 24—just to name a few.

Jean Smart's early life

Before becoming a four-time Emmy winner, she began her career in regional theater in the Pacific Northwest. She performed in theater throughout Washington and Oregon before moving to New York City to take on Broadway. Then, later on, she got her big break and left the off-Broadway shows. 

Her first major Broadway role was in 1981, as Marlene Dietrich in the biographical play Piaf. When Piaf hit television in 1984, Jean had the opportunity to reprise her role, taking her to the screen. From there, she started to gain more recognition, especially for her roles in the 1983 short-lived series Teachers Only and Reggie. According to Jean, casting directors suddenly began calling her acknowledging she was funny.

Outside of acting, she met her late-husband Richard Gilliland on the set of Designing Women, where he played J. D. Shackelford. The two were married in 1987 and stayed together for around 34 years before Richard passed earlier this year. The couple shared three children—Bonnie Kathleen Gilliland, Connor Douglas Gilliland, and Forrest Gilliand.

The Primetime Emmys 2021 may have come to a close, but we can't wait to see what Jean does next.

Rylee Johnston
Rylee Johnston

Rylee is a U.S. news writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life who primarily covers lifestyle, celebrity, and fashion news. At times, she also reports on beauty, royals, entertainment, health, and travel. The latest fashion and beauty trends, along with any quirky travel destinations are her favorite topics to write about. 


Before coming to woman&home and My Imperfect Life, Rylee originally studied journalism at Hofstra University where she explored her interests in world politics and magazine writing. From there, she dabbled in freelance writing covering fashion and beauty e-commerce for outlets such as the TODAY show, American Spa Magazine, First for Women, and Woman’s World.


When she’s not writing articles, you can find her testing out one of the many restaurants New York City has to offer and planning her next travel destination. Her other hobbies also include hiking, ballet, yoga, and reading practically any book TikTok recommends.