He earned his bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College in 1980 and an M.F.A.
from Cornell University in 1982. Though born in New York, Smits has deep Puerto
Rican roots and he frequently visits the island.
Jimmy Smits has received various nominations for Golden Globe and Emmy Awards, and he won an Emmy in 1990. A wider audience became aware of Smits for his appearance as Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan who becomes Princess Leia's father, in the Star Wars films Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
He currently plays the role of Representative Matthew Vicente Santos of Houston, Texas in the American television drama The West Wing.
Congressman Santos is the Democratic nominee for President in the fictional presidential election that will take place during an April 2006 episode.
Jimmy Smits's main opponent is liberal Republican Senator Arnold Vinick of California (played by Alan Alda). Because of the show's traditionally liberal leanings, many fans speculate that Santos will win the contest, though the producers of the series insist that they have not yet decided who will win.
Jimmy Smits is one of only two actors (along with Matthew Perry) to have starred on the show as a fictional character, and also be mentioned by his real name onscreen.
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