Born on July 10, 1951 in Lemay, Missouri, Phyllis Smith took on a number of jobs before becoming an actress. She earned full dance scholarships from Kansas University and Tulsa University where she attended during high school and college and later studied with Marjorie Mendolia of the San Carlo Opera Company for ballet and tap, eventually becoming a teacher herself.
In talking about her early years on stage, she said, "I had one teacher tell my mom that I was like two different people when I was onstage and offstage. When I was onstage, she said I really ‘beamed.’"
She added, "When I was onstage, that’s where I was confident, because I knew I was good. You know how when you know you’re good at something ... I knew I was good, and I loved it so much, and it came from a place of joy, so that was where I was most comfortable."
Smith began her career in dancing as a St. Louis Cardinals cheerleader, as she was educated University of Missouri, St. Louis, where she earned a degree in elementary education. She then became part of The St. Louis Civic Ballet and The St. Louis Dance Theater, and eventually worked as a professional jazz dancer under Raoul Appel. Smith later toured the country as a dancer with vaudeville burlesque show, Able's Baggy Pants Burlesque and with the Mercer Brother's show Giggles Galore as a dancer and a comic skit performer. Aside from dancing, she also had to take on several jobs such as pre-school teacher, a JC Penney warehouse worker, a movie theater ticket taker, and a receptionist for an aerospace defense company.
Smith previously worked for Allison Jones casting, whose clients were various NBC shows. During a pilot testing for The Office, she impressed the executive producers so much with her line readings that they decided to create a role for her in the production's pilot. She later made her way to becoming a series regular, soon appearing with the cast on Celebrity Family Feud in 2008. Phyllis Smith has also been seen on an episode of Arrested Development as Carla. In 2005, she made an appearance on the film The 40 Year Old Virgin, following this up with the romantic comedy I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With.
She used to be a St. Louis Cardinals Cheerleader.
Was known for being a ballet dancer with The St. Louis Civic Ballet and The St. Louis Dance Theater and a professional jazz dancer under Raoul Appel.
She once 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 a comic skit performer.
2011: Bad Teacher - Lynn
2011: Butter - Nancy
2005-2010: The Office (TV series) - Phyllis Lapin/Phyllis Vance
2008: The Office: The Outburst (TV series) - Phyllis Lapin
2006: I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With - OA Lady - Marsha
2006: The Office: The Accountants (TV series) - Phyllis
2005: The 40 Year Old Virgin - Andy's Mother
2005: Arrested Development (TV series) - Carla