Local Guy Kerr Smith: Happily Stuck in 'Life Unexpected'

"Once you're hired here, you never leave," says West Chester native Kerr Smith, who has lasted longer at The WB than the network's name did.

Smith bows Monday night on the son (or, more likely, daughter) of The WB, The CW, in Life Unexpected, playing the fiance of Shiri Appleby's character. TV heads and Tabasco Sauce fans will remember that Appleby played the wide-eyed Liz Parker in the WB's aliens in America show Roswell, around the turn of the century. (The spacefolk drank Tabasco by the gallon, and there was plenty for them when disappointed fans flooded The WB in a campaign to revive the show.)

Kerr Smith.

Smith goes back even further, as TV's first long-running gay teen character, Jack McPhee on Dawson's Creek.

Smith quickly forsook his finance degree at the University of Vermont before kicking around New York for five years seeking acting work (he got some on As the World Turns), but it wasn't exactly a bonanza, so he took off for Los Angeles. He was there a grand total of three weeks when he met with legendary WB casting genius Kathleen Letterie and quickly wound up on Dawson's.

How good was Letterie? Oh, let's see: Katie Holmes, Jessica Biel, Katherine Heigl, Joshua Jackson, Michelle Williams, Keri Russell, Emily VanCamp, Scott Foley, CSI's George Eads, Alyson Hannigan, Charisma Carpenter, and I'm getting tired of typing so many, all passed through her shop back in the day.

Smith has an oil painting, a watercolor, a pastel and a sculpture or two disintegrating in the attic, keeping his boyish good looks in real life even though he's divorced and turns 38 in March. He's very happy to be on Life, enjoying, he says the show's "big heart."

He credits his father, Robert, for encouraging him to stand up for himself and take leadership roles at West Chester's Henderson High School, where he was president of the freshman and sophomore classes and worked as liason to the school board. And, for understanding when Kerr decided to go into acting.