When the TGIF alum (who costarred with five of her siblings in the 1994-5 sitcom On Our Own) joined FNL at the start of Season 4 as Jess Merriweather, it looked like she was being brought in for more light comedy. She and high-school classmate Landry Clarke (the effortlessly winning Jesse Plemons) met cute when he ran over her bicycle. Over the course of the season, however, she's become caught in an emotionally charged triangle with Landry and his street-tough teammate Vince Howard (Michael B. Jordan), and Smollett hasn't made a false step dramatically. (She makes her choice in the season finale, airing Aug. 6 at 8/7c on NBC)
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Now that she's finished shooting FNL's fifth (and allegedly final) season, Smollett's growing up fast, jumping to CBS' Jim Belushi-Jerry O'Connell dramedy The Defenders as an attorney who put herself through law school by stripping. It remains to be seen if the show runs as long as According to Jim or as short as O'Connell's Carpoolers, but in any case, it won't be the end of Smollett's journey.
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