38 Facts About Tavis Smiley


Tavis Smiley is an American talk show host and author.


Tavis Smiley had an employment dispute with PBS in December 2017 which resulted in his suing PBS for wrongful termination.


Tavis Smiley was born in Gulfport, Mississippi, the son of Joyce Marie Roberts.


Tavis Smiley's mother was a very religious person, and the family attended the local New Bethel Tabernacle Church, part of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World.


The Tavis Smiley children were forbidden from listening to secular music at home or going to the movie theater, and could watch only television shows their parents felt were family-friendly.


Tavis Smiley became interested in politics at age 13 after attending a fundraiser for US Senator Birch Bayh.


At Maconaquah High School in Bunker Hill, Indiana, a school that Tavis Smiley described as "98 percent white," he was active in the student council and the debate team, even though his parents were "skeptical of all non-church extracurricular activities".


The summer after his first year, Tavis Smiley worked, attended summer classes, and lived off campus with Indiana Hoosiers men's basketball players, then being coached by Bob Knight.


Tavis Smiley was accepted into the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity during his second year, and became business manager of his dormitory, a member of the student senate, and director of minority affairs.


When Tavis Smiley visited Los Angeles to attend a national student leaders' convention, the cousin of his roommate introduced Tavis Smiley to football star Jim Brown.


At City Hall, Tavis Smiley worked at the Office of Youth Development on the 22nd floor.


Tavis Smiley took the LSAT twice because, he thought he "didn't do great the first time," and he "did a little better" the second time; he intended to apply to Harvard Law School.


In 2003, Tavis Smiley officially received his degree from Indiana University in public affairs.


Tavis Smiley became a radio commentator, broadcasting one-minute daily radio segments called The Smiley Report on KGFJ radio.


Tavis Smiley's commentaries focused on local and national current-affairs issues affecting the African-American community.


For six months, Tavis Smiley worked on a community news program on a local cable network, and spent six more months working on television in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Tavis Smiley was the new host of Tavis Talks on BlogTalkRadio's Tavis Smiley Network.


In 1996 Tavis Smiley became a frequent commentator to the Tom Joyner Morning Show, a nationally syndicated radio show broadcast on black and urban stations in the United States.


Also in 1996 Tavis Smiley began hosting and executive producing BET Tonight, a public affairs discussion show on the Black Entertainment Television network.


Tavis Smiley hosted BET Tonight until 2001 when, in a controversial move, the network announced that Tavis Smiley's contract would not be renewed.


Robert L Johnson, founder of BET, defended the decision, stating that Smiley had been fired because he had sold an exclusive interview to ABC News without first offering the story to BET, even though Smiley's contract with BET did not require him to do so.


Tavis Smiley ultimately sold the interview to rival network ABC, he said, only after CBS passed on the interview, and suggested that his firing was payback for the publicity he gained as a result of providing an exclusive interview to ABC.


Tavis Smiley was then offered a chance to host a radio talk show on National Public Radio.


Tavis Smiley served as host of The Tavis Smiley Show on NPR until December 2004.


Smiley launched a weekly version of his radio program The Tavis Smiley Show on April 29,2005, distributed by NPR rival Public Radio International.


Tavis Smiley moderated two live presidential candidate forums in 2007: a Democratic forum on June 28 at Howard University in Washington, DC, and a Republican forum on September 27 at Morgan State University in Baltimore.


On September 4,2014, it was announced that Tavis Smiley would be competing on the 19th season of Dancing with the Stars.


In 2017, Tavis Smiley was accused of violating the morals clause of his contract.


Tavis Smiley used his commentator status on Joyner's radio show to launch several advocacy campaigns to highlight discriminatory practices in the media and government, and to rally support for causes such as the awarding of a Congressional Gold Medal to civil rights icon Rosa Parks.


Tavis Smiley began building a national reputation as a political commentator with numerous appearances on political discussion shows on MSNBC, ABC, and CNN.


In 2005, Tavis Smiley donated and raised thousands of dollars for Texas Southern University.


The School of Communication was temporarily named after him, before TSU and Tavis Smiley mutually agreed to remove his name.


Tavis Smiley cited fatigue and a busy schedule in a personal call to Joyner.


In 2012, Tavis Smiley participated in a "Poverty Tour" with Princeton University professor Cornel West to promote their book The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto.


On December 14,2017, Tavis Smiley described the PBS investigation as "biased and sloppy" and said he would fight the allegations and the damage to his reputation.


In 2018, Tavis Smiley sued PBS for wrongful termination while PBS countersued claiming a breach of a morals clause in his contract.


Tavis Smiley was named No 2 change agent in the field of media behind Oprah Winfrey in EBONY Magazines POWER 150 list.


In 2014, Tavis Smiley received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, honoring his contributions to television.