Phyllis Smith portrays customer sales representative Phyllis Lapin on NBC’s hit comedy The Office.
Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Smith is a former St. Louis Cardinal Cheerleader. She got her start in the entertainment industry working for casting agencies with clients such as Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development, Freaks and Geeks, Spin City, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, and NBC’s pilot of The Office. She was working for Allison Jones casting during the pilot screen testing for The Office when the show’s executive producers were so impressed with her line readings that they decided to create the role of Phyllis for her in the pilot. She is now a series regular.
Her additional acting credits include Arrested Development, the box office comedy hit The 40 Year-Old Virgin and the independent film I Want to Eat Cheese with Someone.
Smith received full scholarships in dance from Kansas University and Tulsa University where she attended during high school and college. She studied with Marjorie Mendolia of the San Carlo Opera Company for ballet and tap and eventually became a teacher. Smith was a ballet dancer with the St. Louis Civic Ballet and the St. Louis Dance Theater and a professional jazz dancer under Raoul Appel.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Missouri, St. Louis. She has toured the country as a dancer with a vaudeville burlesque show, Able’s Baggy Pants Burlesque and the Mercer Brother’s show Giggles Galore, not only as a dancer, but as a comic skit performer.
In addition to her love of dance, Smith has worked various odd jobs to pay the bills. She was a pre-school teacher for three years, a J.C. Penney’s warehouse worker, a movie theater ticket taker, and a receptionist for an aerospace defense company, where she earned the coveted Employee of the Year award.
Smith has been a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) member for more than eighteen years. She currently lives in Los Angeles.