Actress J. Smith-Cameron was born Jean Isabel Smith in Louisville, Kentucky, and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, the daughter of an architect. She was known simply as J. Smith by her fellow students at Florida State University School of Theatre program in the mid-1970s. Despite her age, she made for a completely believable teenage Anne Frank in "The Diary of Anne Frank", was a touching and memorable Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker", was wonderfully bizarre as Honey in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and demonstrated great skill and versatility in an all-female version of "The Taming of the Shrew". Smith's older sister, actress Jo Ann Smith (who later became a teacher), also attended FSU at the same time and performed in a production of the classic Iranian allegory, "The Butterfly" ("Shaparak Khanoom") by Bijan Mofid and directed by his actor/brother, Ardavan Mofid.
She made her film debut while studying at FSU, starring in the acclaimed low-budget production of Gal Young U