iOS app Android app

Tavis Smiley
Some would say that an exclusive interview with the President of the United States, during one of the most controversial scandals to ever hit the White House, is the interview of a lifetime. Others would say interviewing Fidel Castro in the wake of unprecedented U.S. sanctions relief, or the conversation with Pope John Paul II was the most significant.

Time selected Smiley as one of America's 50 most promising young leaders. Newsweek profiled him as one of the "20 people changing how Americans get their news" and dubbed him one of the nation's "captains of the airwaves."

With his late night television talk show, Tavis Smiley on PBS, and his radio show The Tavis Smiley Show from NPR, Smiley was the first American ever to simultaneously host signature talk shows on both PBS and National Public Radio. Smiley's television show continues now in its second season, and Smiley just announced the return of The Tavis Smiley Show to public radio in association with Public Radio International, PRI, coming April 29th.

Smiley, who started his career as an aide to the late Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley, also offers political commentary twice weekly on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. In addition, he has authored eight books and has his own imprint (Smiley Books) with Hay House.

Texas Southern University recently honored Smiley with the opening of The Tavis Smiley School of Communications and The Tavis Smiley Center for Professional Media Studies, making Smiley the youngest African American to ever have a professional school and center named after him on a college or university campus. Smiley cemented his commitment to TSU with a $1million gift to the Center.

The mission of his nonprofit organization-Tavis Smiley Foundation-is to enlighten, encourage and empower Black youth. Tavis Smiley Presents, a subsidiary of The Smiley Group, Inc., brings ideas and people together through symposiums, seminars, forums and town hall meetings.

Smiley has received numerous honorary doctorate degrees including one from his alma mater, Indiana University.

One of ten children, Smiley is single and lives in Los Angeles. In his spare time, he enjoys a good game of Scrabble with friends.

What People Are Saying About TAVIS SMILEY...

The Los Angeles Times says he's on the "fast track, left lane."

The New York Post screamed, "Look out Larry King(here comes Tavis Smiley!"

The Washington Post declared that he's "winning friends and influencing people."

The Philadelphia Inquirer says Smiley is "one of the most important political voices of his generation."

The Cleveland Plain Dealer summed up Tavis' appeal best: "In the age of high-decibel, in-your-face talk shows, Tavis Smiley keeps the volume low and the content high. He also gets the best guests in broadcasting - presidents, the pope, A-list entertainers. Smiley's style of easy and engaging conversation makes them all feel comfortable. And it works."

Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Daily News columnist E.R. Shipp writes: "He does what too little of talk radio or television does these days: conducts civil conversations with a broad spectrum of politicians, newsmakers, performers and writers in a forum where one first has to declare one's political alliances. He's comfortable with conservatives, liberals and the undeclared; with the profound and the profane, with elder statesmen and the hip-hop nation. With such stratification in the country, he provides one place that helps promote dialogues that might not otherwise take place before audiences who might not otherwise think that they have anything in common."

DeWayne Wickham in USA Today declares that Smiley is "arguably the nation's most influential black journalist."

Vanity Fair inducted him into their Hall of Fame.

Entries by Tavis Smiley

The Civil Rights Act of 1964: Noted Panelists Discuss Then and Now

(1) Comments | Posted April 11, 2014 | 3:43 PM

It has been 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson signed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. Last week, as part of the reopening of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, I moderated three panels of civil rights advocates who reflected on early efforts to pass civil...

Read Post

My Conversation with Music Legend David Crosby

(0) Comments | Posted April 8, 2014 | 5:09 PM

Tonight on PBS, I welcome legendary singer-songwriter and two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer David Crosby for his first interview since undergoing heart surgery earlier this year. As a founding member of two pioneering musical groups -- the Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young -- Crosby helped create...

Read Post

A Culture of Innovative Ideas: My Conversation with the Winners of the $75,000 Social Innovation Challenge

(1) Comments | Posted April 3, 2014 | 7:18 PM

Social innovation, activism, problem solving, thought leadership - no matter what phrase you use to describe it, there is a need to accelerate the process of generating and adopting new ideas to meet unmet societal needs.

With this in mind, last summer I partnered with the A. James Clark...

Read Post

My Conversation With Clay Risen

(0) Comments | Posted April 2, 2014 | 1:11 PM

Tonight on PBS, I am joined by Clay Risen, an editor for The New York Times op-ed section and an acclaimed author. Risen discusses his new text, The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act, in which he unfolds the historic battle, waged from the...

Read Post

My Conversation with Shyima Hall, Human Trafficking Survivor and Activist

(0) Comments | Posted March 27, 2014 | 7:59 AM

Tonight on PBS, I sit with author Shyima Hall. Her memoir Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave, provides an emotionally gripping recount of her years in human captivity. Sold into slavery by her parents when she was just 8 years old, Hall's ordeal took her from...

Read Post

My Conversation With Robert Reich

(3) Comments | Posted March 25, 2014 | 4:41 PM

Tonight on PBS, I have a conversation with Robert Reich, former secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton and public policy professor at the University of California, Berkeley. The Rhodes Scholar and Yale Law School grad is the author of 13 books, including Aftershock, the basis for the award-winning film...

Read Post

My Conversation With Professor Peniel Joseph on Stokely: A Life

(0) Comments | Posted March 20, 2014 | 2:55 PM

Tonight on PBS, I'm joined by Professor Peniel Joseph, a leading scholar of African American history and an award-winning author. Joseph teaches at Tufts University and also founded a growing subfield that he characterizes as "Black Power Studies," which is actively rewriting post-war American and African American history and related...

Read Post

My Conversation With Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman: Collaborative 'Harmony'

(1) Comments | Posted March 18, 2014 | 3:21 PM

Tonight on PBS, I have a conversation with longtime musical collaborators Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman. The Grammy-winning songwriters have been partners for more than 40 years, with projects that include the song and the musical "Copacabana," and the song "Let Freedom Ring," for the televised bicentennial celebration of the...

Read Post

Poverty Less Than .02 Percent of Lead Media Coverage

(12) Comments | Posted March 7, 2014 | 1:34 PM

Did you know that poverty represents less than 0.02 percent of lead media coverage? Compare that with prominent news topics:

  • Politics: 16 percent
  • Business: 4 percent
  • Immigration: 1.4 percent
  • Education: 1.2 percent
  • Science: 0.6 percent

There was some improvement in 2011 (0.22 percent), and between January 2012 and May 2012...

Read Post

My No-Holds-Barred Conversation With Actor Harry Lennix

(0) Comments | Posted February 25, 2014 | 5:07 PM

Tonight on PBS, I'm joined by film, television, stage actor and co-star of The Blacklist, Harry Lennix. His other acting credits include Man of Steel and the Oscar-winning film, Ray, for which he earned a SAG Award nomination. Lennix is co-founder of Legacy Productions, which is dedicated to promoting significant...

Read Post

My Conversation With Toni Braxton and Babyface: Love, Marriage and Divorce

(0) Comments | Posted February 20, 2014 | 2:51 PM

Love, Marriage and Divorce, the new album from Toni Braxton and Kenneth"Babyface" Edmonds, is currently one of the top-selling albums in the U.S. The R&B duo joins me tonight on PBS to discuss their long history together, maintaining relevancy in the music industry and the inspiration behind the new album.

Read Post

My Conversation With Filmmaker Robert Greenwald About His Film, Unmanned: America's Drone Wars

(0) Comments | Posted February 19, 2014 | 7:52 PM

Join me tonight on PBS for my conversation with award-winning filmmaker Robert Greenwald. He has exec-produced and/or directed more than 50 TV movies, miniseries and feature films. Through his company, Brave New Films, he also makes political video shorts and full-length documentaries -- substantive investigations of social issues, told through...

Read Post

Tavis Smiley Poses 10 Questions About Obama White House Initiative For Young Men Of Color, 'My Brother's Keeper'

(4) Comments | Posted February 13, 2014 | 5:38 PM

On his public radio program, Tavis Smiley poses 10 important questions that need to be addressed in assessing the potential impacts of the "My Brother's Keeper" initiative soon to be announced by the Obama White House.

Click below to hear Tavis' conversation with Kenneth Braswell, executive director of Fathers Incorporated.

Read Post

My Conversation With Chiwetel Ejiofor

(1) Comments | Posted February 13, 2014 | 3:23 PM

Tonight on PBS, I'm joined by Chiwetel Ejiofor, whose commanding performance as Solomon Northup in 12 Years A Slave earned him an Oscar nomination. Trained in the theater, London-born Ejiofor has been called Britain's "first black movie star." His versatility is demonstrated by his range of roles -- from his...

Read Post

My Conversation With Jamie Lee Curtis: Drug Addiction in America

(3) Comments | Posted February 10, 2014 | 5:04 PM

Tonight on PBS, I have an open and transparent conversation with award-winning actress and best-selling children's author Jamie Lee Curtis. The star candidly discusses her personal struggle with addiction and her 15 years of sobriety, among other things.

In the clip below, Curtis reflects on the recent death of Philip...

Read Post

My Conversation With USC Law Professor Edwin Smith: Is Edward Snowden a Whistle-blower or Traitor?

(14) Comments | Posted February 4, 2014 | 4:34 PM

Tonight on PBS, University of Southern California law professor Edwin Smith is my guest. A foreign relations law expert, he weighs in on the fallout from the NSA leaks, U.S. surveillance and Edward Snowden.

The Justice Department charged Snowden with three counts of violating the Espionage Act, which carries...

Read Post

My Conversation With L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti: State of the Union and Promise Zones

(1) Comments | Posted January 27, 2014 | 6:57 PM

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti joins me tonight on PBS to preview tomorrow's State of the Union address, during which it is anticipated that President Obama will lay out plans to address poverty and income inequality as part of the 2014 legislative agenda. L.A. is one of five "Promise Zones"...

Read Post

My Conversation With Joseph Gordon-Levitt

(0) Comments | Posted January 23, 2014 | 4:30 PM

Join me tonight for my conversation with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He spent his teens as co-star of the Emmy-winning sitcom, 3rd Rock from the Sun, in a role that put him on the map, and segued into features as a well-regarded adult actor with a wide range of performances. His film...

Read Post

My Conversation With Don Cheadle

(1) Comments | Posted January 16, 2014 | 2:41 PM

Actor, producer and writer Don Cheadle joins me tonight on PBS. He has amassed a solid acting reputation with diverse roles in such films as Hotel Rwanda -- for which he received an Oscar nod -- Iron Man 2 and 3 and The Guard, which he exec-produced. He's also worked...

Read Post

My Conversation With Bruce Dern

(1) Comments | Posted January 15, 2014 | 4:01 PM

Tonight on PBS, I chat with one of Hollywood's most iconic actors, Bruce Dern, who has appeared in more than 80 films, including Coming Home, for which he was nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe in 1979. Fast forward, and he is once again garnering Oscar buzz for his...

Read Post