The Inspiring Life of Laura Francis Smith, Forest Whitaker’s Mother- Early Life, Education, Career & Legacy

Laura Francis Smith is the mother of a well-known American actor, director, and producer with an impressive career spanning over three decades, Forest Whitaker. He has received the Oscar Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role among the many honors.

Everyone knows about Forest Whitaker’s personal life and success story, but few people are aware of his mother, Laura Smith, who significantly impacted his life. In this article, we delve into the extraordinary life of Laura Francis Smith, Forest Whitaker’s mother, and her profound impact on her son’s life.

Laura Francis Profile’s Summary

Full NameLaura Francis Smith
Famous for Mother of Forest Whitaker
Date of Birth and Place December 11, 1932
Place of BirthLongview, Texas, United States
SpouseForest Steven Jr.
ChildrenDeborah Whitaker, Kenn Whitaker, Damon Whitaker, Forest Whitaker
GrandchildrenOcean Whitaker, True Whitaker, Sonnet Noel Whitaker, Autumn Whitaker

Childhood, Early Life, and Background of Laura Francis Smith

Laura Francis Smith was born on December 11, 1932, in Longview, Texas, United States. She was the eldest of four children born to Mary and Eugene Smith.

Laura spent her childhood in a segregated community where opportunities for African Americans were limited. However, this did not deter her from pursuing her dreams.

Laura Francis Smith’s Education and Career

Talking about her education, she was a gifted student and excelled academically. Because of her academic prowess and gift for learning, she was awarded a scholarship to attend Texas College in Tyler, Texas.

Laura majored in business education at Texas College and graduated with honors in 1953. She subsequently continued her studies at the University of Southern California for a Master’s in Library Science (USC).

After earning her degree, Laura spent several years as a librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library. She deeply loved learning and devoted her life to helping marginalized populations gain access to books and literacy.

Family Life Laura Smith

Laura married her high school sweetheart, Forest Whitaker Sr., and the couple had four children together: Forest Jr., Damon, Kenn, and Deborah.

As a loving mother, Laura instilled in her kids the value of work ethic and education. She supported them along the road and encouraged them to pursue their dreams.

Impact of Laura Francis Smith on Forest Whitaker’s Life 

Forest Whitaker’s mother, Laura Smith, was a significant figure in his life. She instilled in him a strong sense of responsibility, a drive for learning, and a profound empathy for others. Forest has spoken publicly about his mother’s profound impact on his life and career.

Forest said in an interview with The Guardian, “My mother instilled in me the idea that I could be anything I wanted to be. She believed in me and encouraged me to pursue my dreams. Her unwavering support gave me the courage to pursue a career in acting.”

Forest also credits his mother for teaching him the value of empathy and compassion for other people. He has stated that his mother’s influence was a significant factor in forming his perspective.

He has actively participated in several philanthropic initiatives, including helping refugees and promoting peace in conflict zones.

The Brother of Forest Whitaker, Kenn, also said that his mother was crucial in supporting him through personal struggles, including a battle with addiction. Even under the worst circumstances, she never gave up on him, and her unfailing love and support enabled him to recover from his addiction and put his life back on track.

Kenn Whitaker

In interviews, Kenn has praised his mother as his prominent supporter and source of inspiration. He has acknowledged that she has significantly impacted his life and expressed his gratitude for what she has done.

Legacy and Impact of Laura Francis

At the age of 80, Laura Francis Smith passed away on December 29, 2012. However, her legacy lives on through her children and the countless lives she touched through her work as a librarian and advocate for education.

The Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI), a nonprofit seeking to advance peace and development in conflict zones worldwide, was founded by Forest Whitaker in 2016. The group’s goals are based on the empathy and compassion that Laura Smith instilled in her son.

What are the Lessons We Can Learn from the Life of Laura Francis?

Laura Francis’ life serves as an example of the strength of resiliency, tenacity, and dedication to having a positive impact on the world. Her experience offers important lessons from which we can all learn.

1. Never Give Up: Laura Francis never gave up on her objectives despite facing enormous obstacles. Her example shows us that we can do great things if we persevere in the face of difficulty.

2. Belief in Yourself: Laura Francis’ success was attributed mainly to her persistent faith in her abilities and herself. She was confident that she could accomplish everything she set her mind to. And that confidence enabled her to get through the challenges she encountered.

3. Give Back to the Community: Another vital lesson from Laura Francis’ life is her dedication to her community. She made a difference in numerous people’s lives by giving her time and resources to assist others.


Laura Francis Smith was an extraordinary woman who devoted her life to advancing literacy and education. Her unwavering love and support significantly impacted the lives and careers of her son Forest Whitaker. By leaving a lasting legacy, Laura encourages others to follow their passions and positively influence the world.

Most Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What was Laura Francis Smith’s profession?

Ans: Laura Francis Smith was an educator, who taught at various schools throughout her life.

Q. What obstacles did Laura Francis Smith face?

Ans: Laura Francis faced poverty, discrimination, and health issues throughout her life.

Q. How did Laura Francis Smith influence her son, Forest Whitaker?

Ans: Laura Francis instilled in her son a sense of resilience and a drive to succeed.

Beyond Laura Smith Under Wiki Listing

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