Monique Green hit the road to Hollywood early.
At just five years old, she joined her mother, then an aspiring actress and model, on a drive from Miami to Los Angeles. She remembers them singing in the car and at one point ducking, sweaters on their heads, from a swarm of locusts at a gas station in Texas.
Growing up in L.A., Green visited her mom — then known as Gwendolyn Osborne — on the sets of shows including Whose Line Is It Anyway? and The Price Is Right. These days, her mother's familiarity with the business helps keep Green centered as she navigates it herself.
"She always said, 'You are enough,'" Green recalls, adding that her mom (now known as Osborne-Smith) taught her, "It's not about booking every job, every time. You get the roles you're supposed to have."
Preordained or not, Green shines in the new Disney+ comedy Big Shot alongside stars John Stamos and Yvette Nicole Brown. Her character, Olive, plays on a girls' basketball team at a posh private high school. "She's committed and a good friend," Green says. "And ambitious — she sees what can be done and executes."
Green is equally committed. "I try to make every moment I have on screen a little bit special," says the actress, who racked up guest credits on shows such as This Is Us, Fuller House and black-ish during high school and college. "You only get that little bit of time sometimes, so you want people to connect with you."
Also a dancer and singer, Green aspires to working one day on a Marvel project and playing a role that allows her to speak Mandarin, which she studied at Loyola Marymount University. "I want to do it all," she enthuses.
Coming from a "basketball family," as she puts it, her current role rings familiar.
Her stepdad is retired NBA star and current TNT sports commentator Kenny Smith, and her stepbrother, K.J. Smith, just completed his college basketball career with the University of North Carolina Tar Heels.
Her own experience on the court was limited to middle school, where she joined the team to be with her friends. "We were terrible but would clap for each other even if we missed the shot," she recalls. Her stepdad sees the irony, noting: "Of all the kids, you're the one who gets paid to play basketball on TV!"
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 5, 2021