My first love is always family — my children and my husband. They make my world go round.
Charlie’s Angels catapulted Jaclyn Smith to fame in the 1970s, and this great beauty has captivated us ever since. Talented, gracious and kind, she’s also a phenomenally successful entrepreneur. For the past 31 years her Jaclyn Smith brand has anchored Kmart’s fashion line, offering the public great value and affordable, fashionable clothing. She also has a line of fabrics, wigs and skincare and somehow finds the time to work ardently for several charities. But the most important part of her life is her family, including husband, Dr. Brad Allen, a renowned medical researcher, and her children, Spencer Margaret and Gaston. Travelgirl is honored to have this glamorous star grace our cover.
tg: It’s a pleasure to welcome you to the cover of Travelgirl Magazine! We are honored to have you. You grew up in Texas with wonderful values; you started taking dancing lessons when you were a small child. You attended Trinity University in San Antonio, where you studied but continued to love to dance. What was your goal when you left college?
JS: My goal was to open a ballet school and probably live in Houston down the street from my family because I was so attached to them. When I went to New York to get additional training and widen my horizons all of a sudden I found myself testing for commercials and pilots. Over time I realized this was something I really loved. When I first went to New York I made it two months — from October 1 until December 1 — and then went home. In that time I realized, wow, I really liked New York. I liked the lifestyle, the art, dance, theatre and fashion. It was a place where I felt really at home. I went back to New York and my career started. An agent discovered me when I was dancing in Central Park in a show. His name was Harry Abrams, and he started sending me out on commercials, and one thing led to another. It was different then; you went to a dance call and all of a sudden you would be reading for a part in a play. It was less structured when I started.
tg: How did growing up in Texas impact your life? You’ve stayed quite grounded despite your celebrity status.
JS: I had the greatest parents in the world. I was very close to my grandfather who was a Methodist minister and lived to be almost 102. I look at my upbringing as all that was good and right and my family gave me that. It gave me a balance in life and the way my parents lived their lives was an example to me that I aspire to even today. I respected my parents’ choices and the way they chose to live. That was what was most important to me. Celebrity is great but you have to be grounded or it separates you from your friends, from life, from everything. When you are at the top of your career everything is done for you; decisions are made and everything is at your fingertips. You have to realize that celebrity is wonderful but it isn’t real life. I love the life my parents chose to live; that was real life to me. Even though I am not living in Texas and my parents are gone now, they are with me with every breath I take.
tg: I remember you starred in commercials as the Breck Girl for Breck Shampoo. How were you “discovered” for the commercials?
JS: The Breck commercial got me my first acting job, which was on McCloud. The producer of McCloud saw me in a Breck commercial. Dennis Weaver brought me in and I thought, ‘I don’t know if I’m up to this,’ and all of a sudden Dennis Weaver told me I was going to do this, and he got me a great director named Lou Antonio who I still work with today. Lou teaches at the Actor’s Studio and is an award-winning director and was also an actor. That was the beginning of my acting career.
tg: Let’s talk about Charlie’s Angels. Your role brought you immense success. Did you realize at the time the impact that role would have on your career? It must have been a fun time in your life.
JS: It was a wonderful training ground and the beginning of a whole new world and life for me. Friendships were made and our lives changed in a split second because of the popularity of that show. It was a winning concept and I loved doing it; it’s part of my history and I’m grateful for it.
tg: You’ve had phenomenal success as a businesswoman. What inspired that addition to your career? Tell me about the development of your own brand.
JS: Thirty-one years ago Kmart approached me about designing a brand. I first turned them down because I wasn’t quite sure about fashion and Kmart. I was asked to at least attend a meeting, which I agreed to do. I realized after the meeting that designing fashion at affordable prices might be challenging work, so I agreed to it. I traveled the country every month to launch my line at Kmart. The merchandise was beautiful, and I built a very loyal customer base. It evolved, and that’s how I got into business. I learned about price points and how to cut the cost of a particular garment. Kmart is a master of producing in mass. We have a team of really talented people and we can give the public value: beautiful clothes at affordable prices. The success spilled over into other areas including home and design. Being a businesswoman, I didn’t just put my name on the brand. I was hands-on with all aspects of the business from hang tags to fabrics, styling, commercials and even the print ads.
Celebrity is great but you have to be grounded or
it separates you from your friends, from life, from everything.
Branding is an everyday process; you can’t let down; you have to constantly reinvent. It’s challenging, but it’s a great feeling to be able to give back and have a loyal customer. Kmart is also a morally conscious company and is the biggest supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. I am a breast cancer survivor, and Kmart also supports breast cancer research. A portion of the sales of a certain collection goes to this great cause. I love working with fabrics; my fabric line is by Fabricut and my particular line is called Trend. I also have my wigs, and even though I didn’t have to have chemo, I saw many people who did. Hair is so much of a woman’s identity. We made these wigs very affordable and they are gorgeous. My friend Jose Eber came in and worked with us on them, and they are out there with Paula Young. You can also see the wigs on my website: jaclynsmith.com. The value is just tremendous.
tg: Which is your favorite role, your career in acting or in business?
JS: I don’t think my entrepreneurial success would have come without my acting career, so I am very grateful for that. The acting is something so personal. It is a joy, and it defined me and gave me emotional and financial independence. With acting I could pick up my kids and travel. The business part of my career is more challenging because it’s ongoing, but I think God has a plan. I still do the odd movie if I love it. I recently did a Hallmark movie because they are heartwarming and always have a happy ending. My first love is always family — my children and my husband. They make my world go round. I would have to say that because of the way my career started, acting is my favorite. It made all the others possible.
tg: Would you talk a bit about the skin care products you developed with your husband, Dr. Brad Allen? Where can they be purchased?
JS: The products are absolutely wonderful and are available on my website: jaclynsmith.com. You don’t have to purchase the whole set. If you prefer, you can purchase the retinol cream or the eye cream, and they are a very good value. My husband put his heart into these and developed products adding cutting edge, anti-aging ingredients. I’m really proud of these products. My day cream is three creams in one and I don’t go a day without it. It includes a UVA and UVB sunblock, a primer, a moisturizer — and it contains pearl dust and diamond dust, which reflect light. When you reflect light fewer lines show.
tg: You support so many wonderful charities through your philanthropy. Would you talk about Ability First?
JS: Ability First is a wonderful charity that I’ve helped for 40 years. It started out as the Crippled Children’s Society of Southern California, but we have to be politically correct so they changed the name to Ability First, which helps both children and adults with disabilities. I started with this charity after Charlie’s Angels and went to a Christmas party to sign autographs and just fell in love with what they do. I visited camps and was intrigued because these kids in wheelchairs were playing basketball and baseball and they were swinging from a special platform that held their wheelchairs. I saw that the world was their oyster too. I was so enchanted with the foundation! It’s so close to my heart and every year we host a fundraiser at Universal for this special organization.
tg: Do you have a favorite travel destination?
JS: Yes, my home first, and at one time I would also have said Houston, Texas, but I don’t have my parents there anymore. I also love to visit my brother and sister-in-law. A dream place I want to visit is Berlin, and I also want to travel to Amsterdam. I love Paris, London and Italy; those I’ve been to and they are all so romantic. My dad served in World War II, and I want to see some of the history that Daddy spoke about during the war so I want to visit those sites as well. I found all of my parents’ love letters during the war and they are better than any book or movie.
tg: Is there one item you never leave home without when you pack your bags?
JS: I always travel with pictures of my family and with a necklace my mother had made for me.
tg: Do you have any advice for those young hopefuls who hope to one day walk in your shoes?
JS: You have to work hard at whatever you choose to do — especially today. You need range if you want to be an actress. Apply to a reputable acting school; that’s very important. If you want to be involved in marketing there are wonderful schools you can attend. Get the proper education and work really hard. Being well trained is important because the competition is so tough.