Yeardley Smith

Actress


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her almost three-and-a-half-hour interview, Yeardley Smith describes her childhood in Washington, DC and her early interest in theater. She talks about performing at regional theaters in DC before moving to New York and making her Broadway debut in Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Thing” directed by Mike Nichols. Smith then touches on various television appearances she made before landing the role of “Lisa Simpson” on the original incarnation of The Simpsons: bumpers before commercials of The Tracey Ullman Show. She shares stories of The Simpsons’ transition to a half-hour show, working with her castmates, notable guest stars, and her relationship with “Lisa Simpson.” Smith talks about other memorable projects she's appeared in, including Herman’s Head, “The Legend of Billie Jean,” and “City Slickers," and other career pursuits including launching a shoe line, writing a young adult novel, and writing and performing a one-woman show. She concludes by sharing her greatest career achievements, advice for aspiring actors, and how she would like to be remembered. Jenni Matz conducted the interview on November 21, 2016 in North Hollywood, CA.

“I have an affinity for risk…It’s not that I’m fearless. I just have an overabundance of courage.”

Highlights
Yeardley Smith on her Broadway debut in Tom Stoppard's "The Real Thing" directed by Mike Nichols
06:09
Yeardley Smith on her early determination to find success as an actress, and feeling that she had a "gift"
03:36
Yeardley Smith on her relationship to "Lisa Simpson": "she's a magical little character"
03:36
Yeardley Smith on Dustin Hoffman guest starring on The Simpsons on the episode "Lisa's Substitute"
02:14
Yeardley Smith on the cultural impact of The Simpsons
02:03
Yeardley Smith on the origins of the name "Yeardley" (her full name is Martha Maria Yeardley Smith), and living with her unusual name
02:29
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her childhood and early influences; on her distinctive voice; on her early interest in performing
15:30
On TV and movies she watched growing up; on her "affinity for risk" and her stage fright; on her determination to find success as an actress, and feeling she had a "gift"
11:48
On what she has learned from theater; on acting in Washington, DC after graduating from high school; on her Broadway debut in Tom Stoppard's "The Real Thing"; on her first TV appearances
18:58
On the differences between television/film and theater; on her early television appearances; on "The Legend of Billie Jean"; on her drive to succeed early in her career, and her focus on the future
21:41

Chapter 2

On auditioning for "Lisa Simpson"; on the original incarnation of The Simpsons: bumpers before commercials of The Tracey Ullman Show; on her relationship to "Lisa Simpson"
18:43
On how "Lisa Simpson" has evolved over time; on The Simpsons spinning off from The Tracey Ullman Show; on the instant success of The Simpsons and the backlash to the show
10:49
On her relationship to fame and celebrity; on her relationship with her castmates on The Simpsons; on times she has spoken up on behalf of "Lisa Simpson" to the writers; on Paul and Linda McCartney's guest appearance on the show
15:47
On the voice she uses for "Lisa Simpson"; on the show's production schedule; on working with her castmates on The Simpsons and recording the show; on guests stars on The Simpsons
17:29

Chapter 3

On censorship issues (or lack thereof) on The Simpsons; on the longevity of The Simpsons; on fans of The Simpsons; on a suggestion she made for an episode about microfinance
17:06
On winning an Emmy in 1992 and her feelings about awards; on the opportunities The Simpsons has afforded her; on where she see the show going in the future; on the cultural impact of the series
12:26
On her feelings about "Lisa Simpson" and the best part about playing her; on "Lisa" being the heart and soul of The Simpsons; on the legacy of The Simpsons
08:36
On Herman's Head; on wanting to get more on-camera roles; on publishing her novel, "I, Lorelei," and writing a one-woman show
13:24
On feeling most at home in the theater; on ageism and superficiality in Hollywood; on advice for young people and her proudest professional achievement; on what else she'd like to accomplish
16:59
On where she sees herself in ten years; on how she would like to be remembered
05:21
Shows

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Yeardley Smith on winning an Emmy in 1992 for playing "Lisa Simpson" on The Simpsons
04:25

Herman's Head

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Yeardley Smith on Herman's Head
04:11

Mama's Family

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Yeardley Smith on appearing on episodes of Mama's Family
00:39

Simpsons, The

View Show Page
Yeardley Smith on her voice, auditioning for "Lisa Simpson," and why she doesn't do other characters on The Simpsons
03:07
Yeardley Smith on how she got the audition for "Lisa Simpson" (when The Simpsons was a feature on The Tracey Ullman Show)
04:30
Yeardley Smith on her audition for "Lisa Simpson" and how she originally was brought in to read for "Bart Simpson"
05:38
Yeardley Smith on the original incarnation of The Simpsons, which were bumpers before commercials of The Tracey Ullman Show
03:21
Yeardley Smith on her relationship to "Lisa Simpson": "she's a magical little character"
03:36
Yeardley Smith on how "Lisa Simpson" has evolved over time
05:03
Yeardley Smith on The Simpsons spinning off from The Tracey Ullman Show, and its immediate success
02:25
Yeardley Smith on the criticism of The Simpsons when it debuted
02:19
Yeardley Smith on her relationship with her castmates on The Simpsons and how she feels about salary negotiations
04:51
Yeardley Smith on times she has spoken up on behalf of "Lisa Simpson" to The Simpsons writers when she disagreed with them
02:19
Yeardley Smith on Paul and Linda McCartney's guest appearance on The Simpsons, and how they made the writers promise that "Lisa" would remain a vegetarian for the rest of the series
01:33
Yeardley Smith on the voice she uses for "Lisa Simpson" and performing the character
02:37
Yeardley Smith on The Simpsons' production schedule
04:29
Yeardley Smith on working with her castmates on The Simpsons and recording the show
04:08
Yeardley Smith on Michael Jackson guest starring on The Simpsons
02:13
Yeardley Smith on guest stars on The Simpsons
01:02
Yeardley Smith on Dustin Hoffman guest starring on The Simpsons on the episode "Lisa's Substitute"
02:14
Yeardley Smith on censorship issues (or the lack thereof) on The Simpsons
03:47
Yeardley Smith on the worldwide popularity of The Simpsons
02:00
Yeardley Smith on the longevity of The Simpsons
01:59
Yeardley Smith on The Simpsons impact on other animated and comedy series
01:09
Yeardley Smith on "the Simpson" family as a family role model
00:33
Yeardley Smith on how The Simpsons has changed since it started as part of The Tracey Ullman Show
01:29
Yeardley Smith on fans of The Simpsons, and people who now write on the show who grew up watching it
01:39
Yeardley Smith on her feelings about the quality of The Simpsons, as it has been on for so long and how the show continues to stay relevant
01:15
Yeardley Smith on a suggestion she made for an episode of The Simpsons, which was about microfinance
02:51
Yeardley Smith on winning an Emmy in 1992 for playing "Lisa Simpson" on The Simpsons
04:25
Yeardley Smith on where she sees The Simpsons going in the future
02:54
Yeardley Smith on how much longer she would want to do The Simpsons
00:29
Yeardley Smith on the cultural impact of The Simpsons
02:03
Yeardley Smith on her feelings about "Lisa Simpson" and the best part about playing her
02:55
Yeardley Smith on "Lisa Simpson" being the moral compass and heart and soul of The Simpsons
03:42
Yeardley Smith on the legacy of The Simpsons
01:57

Tracey Ullman Show, The

View Show Page
Yeardley Smith on how she got the audition for "Lisa Simpson" (when The Simpsons was a feature on The Tracey Ullman Show)
04:30
Yeardley Smith on her audition for "Lisa Simpson" and how she originally was brought in to read for "Bart Simpson"
05:38
Yeardley Smith on the original incarnation of The Simpsons, which were bumpers before commercials of The Tracey Ullman Show
03:21
Yeardley Smith on The Simpsons spinning off from The Tracey Ullman Show, and its immediate success
02:25
Yeardley Smith on how The Simpsons has changed since it started as part of The Tracey Ullman Show
01:29

Twilight Zone, The

View Show Page
Yeardley Smith on appearing on episode of the 1980s version of The Twilight Zone
00:54
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

View Topic
Yeardley Smith on censorship issues (or the lack thereof) on The Simpsons
02:45

Characters & Catchphrases

View Topic
Yeardley Smith on remaining fairly anonymous when The Simpsons first aired because the producers didn't want the actors out there (partially because they didn't want people to know that "Bart" was voiced by a woman)
01:12
Yeardley Smith on Paul and Linda McCartney's guest appearance on The Simpsons, and how they made the writers promise that "Lisa" would remain a vegetarian for the rest of the series
01:33

Classic TV series episodes

View Topic
Yeardley Smith on Michael Jackson guest starring on The Simpsons
02:15
Yeardley Smith on Dustin Hoffman guest starring on The Simpsons on the episode "Lisa's Substitute"
02:14

Comedy

View Topic
Yeardley Smith on Michael Jackson guest starring on The Simpsons
02:15
Yeardley Smith on Dustin Hoffman guest starring on The Simpsons on the episode "Lisa's Substitute"
02:14

Criticism of TV

View Topic
Yeardley Smith on the criticism of The Simpsons when it debuted
02:19

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Yeardley Smith on winning an Emmy in 1992 for playing "Lisa Simpson" on The Simpsons
04:25

Fame and Celebrity

View Topic
Yeardley Smith on remaining fairly anonymous when The Simpsons first aired because the producers didn't want the actors out there (partially because they didn't want people to know that "Bart" was voiced by a woman)
01:12
Yeardley Smith on her relationship to fame and celebrity
05:23

First Big Break

View Topic
Yeardley Smith on how she got her first New York agent
01:54
Yeardley Smith on her Broadway debut in Tom Stoppard's "The Real Thing" directed by Mike Nichols
06:09

Overcoming Adversity

View Topic
Yeardley Smith on the challenges of show business: "It made me care about things that don't matter"
02:26
Yeardley Smith on creating balance in her life, starting her shoe line, and creating her development company
02:56

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Yeardley Smith on how she got her first New York agent
01:54
Yeardley Smith on her Broadway debut in Tom Stoppard's "The Real Thing" directed by Mike Nichols
06:09
Yeardley Smith on the challenges of show business: "It made me care about things that don't matter"
02:26
Yeardley Smith on creating balance in her life, starting her shoe line, and creating her development company
02:56

Pop Culture

View Topic
Yeardley Smith on The Simpsons spinning off from The Tracey Ullman Show, and its immediate success
01:12
Yeardley Smith on remaining fairly anonymous when The Simpsons first aired because the producers didn't want the actors out there (partially because they didn't want people to know that "Bart" was voiced by a woman)
01:12
Yeardley Smith on her relationship to fame and celebrity
05:23
Yeardley Smith on Paul and Linda McCartney's guest appearance on The Simpsons, and how they made the writers promise that "Lisa" would remain a vegetarian for the rest of the series
01:33
Yeardley Smith on Michael Jackson guest starring on The Simpsons
02:15
Yeardley Smith on Dustin Hoffman guest starring on The Simpsons on the episode "Lisa's Substitute"
02:14

Television Industry

View Topic
Yeardley Smith on the differences between television/film and theater
06:08
Yeardley Smith on the criticism of The Simpsons when it debuted
02:19
Yeardley Smith on censorship issues (or the lack thereof) on The Simpsons
02:45
Professions

Actress

View Profession
Yeardley Smith on her stage fright and how she's overcome it by being "over prepared"
01:27
Yeardley Smith on her early determination to find success as an actress, and feeling that she had a "gift"
03:36
Yeardley Smith on playing to your strengths as an actor and finding her way into a role
01:51
Yeardley Smith on the differences between television/film and theater, and appearing as a guest star on a TV show
06:08
Yeardley Smith on performing "Lisa Simpson"
01:11
Yeardley Smith on being on The Simpsons and wanting to get more on-camera roles
05:52

Performers

View Profession
Yeardley Smith on her stage fright and how she's overcome it by being "over prepared"
01:27
Yeardley Smith on her early determination to find success as an actress, and feeling that she had a "gift"
03:36
Yeardley Smith on playing to your strengths as an actor and finding her way into a role
01:51
Yeardley Smith on the differences between television/film and theater, and appearing as a guest star on a TV show
06:08
Yeardley Smith on performing "Lisa Simpson"
01:11
Yeardley Smith on being on The Simpsons and wanting to get more on-camera roles
05:52
Genres

Animation

View Genre
Yeardley Smith on her voice, auditioning for "Lisa Simpson," and why she doesn't do other characters on The Simpsons
03:07
Yeardley Smith on The Simpsons
01:02:50
Yeardley Smith on The Simpsons
38:10

Classic Anthology Series

View Genre
Yeardley Smith on appearing on episode of the 1980s version of The Twilight Zone
00:54

Comedy Series

View Genre
Yeardley Smith on appearing on episodes of Mama's Family
00:39
Yeardley Smith on Herman's Head
04:11
People

Hank Azaria

View Interview Page
Yeardley Smith on working with Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer on The Simpsons
01:00

James L. Brooks

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Yeardley Smith on James L. Brooks having demanded that Fox not give The Simpsons any studio/network notes when the show first premiered (which has continued throughout its run)
01:27
Yeardley Smith on getting fired from "Say Anything," which was produced by James L. Brooks
02:14

Nancy Cartwright

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Yeardley Smith on working with Nancy Cartwright on The Simpsons
01:08

Dan Castellaneta

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Yeardley Smith on working with Dan Castellaneta on The Simpsons
00:34

Dustin Hoffman

View Person Page
Yeardley Smith on Dustin Hoffman guest starring on The Simpsons on the episode "Lisa's Substitute"
02:14

Michael Jackson

View Person Page
Yeardley Smith on Michael Jackson guest starring on The Simpsons
02:14

Julie Kavner

View Person Page
Yeardley Smith on working with Julie Kavner on The Simpsons
00:43

Mike Nichols

View Person Page
Yeardley Smith on her Broadway debut in Tom Stoppard's "The Real Thing" directed by Mike Nichols
06:09

Harry Shearer

View Person Page
Yeardley Smith on working with Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer on The Simpsons
01:00

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