Yeardley Smith is unarguably the keeper of one of Hollywood's most distinctive-sounding and instantly recognizable set of vocal chords; the Emmy-winning actress' most famous role is without question that of level-headed, suburban schoolgirl Lisa Simpson on the long-running animated television series The Simpsons. Though most of her live-action roles would come during the mid-'80s with such guilty pleasures as The Legend of Billie Jean and Maximum Overdrive, Smith remained active in front of the camera well into the new millennium with roles in such features as As Good As It Gets and such popular television series as Dharma & Greg.
Born in Paris, France, Smith kicked off her acting career at Washington, D.C.'s Arena Stage before making the move to Broadway in Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing in 1984. A role in the after-school special Mom's on Strike marked the actress' first foray into television, and after graduating to features with a supporting role in the 1985 comedy Heaven Help Us, she gained notable exposure later that same year in the teen drama The Legend of Billie Jean. If the film failed to live up to the hype, Smith's performance (as a somewhat shy teen who discovers her own self-confidence after joining a teenage outlaw on the road) offered a scene-stealing turn that would overflow into the following year's much-maligned horror film Maximum Overdrive. A small supporting role in the 1987 teen comedy Three O'Clock High was quick to follow, and that same year, Smith would step behind the microphone for the role that would change her life.