What The Sun Baby From Teletubbies Looks Like Today

If you were born in the 1990s, prepare to feel really old. Classic kids TV show Teletubbies reached a milestone in 2017, with Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa, and Po celebrating their 20th birthdays. The British preschool series debuted in the UK in the late '90s and went on to catch the imagination of children the world over. The show was nominated for two Daytime Emmy Awards during its original run (1997-2001), proving as popular with kids in the United States as it was with British tykes.

Teletubbies was rebooted in 2015 when Nickelodeon picked up the U.S. rights to new episodes, due in no small part, undoubtedly, to the show's cult following among older viewers. And there's one fully grown former cast member who also considers herself a huge fan. Jess Smith played the laughing, grinning Sun Baby that appears at the beginning and end of every episode. Her beaming face became an iconic image, but what is she up to now, more than two decades later? Does Smith still have that signature smile? Check out what the Sun Baby from Teletubbies looks like today.

The Sun Baby from Teletubbies was discovered in the hospital

Jess Smith got her chance to audition for the part of the Teletubbies' Sun Baby by being in the right place at the right time. The company behind the show, Ragdoll Productions, had tasked a health visitor to keep an eye out for smiley babies while on rounds at Kent's Edenbridge Hospital. When new mother Anji Smith turned up for an appointment with baby Jess, the child's huge grin got her noticed right away.  

"I was being weighed at the hospital, my mum took me and it just happened to be the same time that the producer of the old series had come in and wanted the hospital to get in contact with them if they'd seen any smiley babies," Smith told BBC South East in 2017 (via the Mirror). "It was just a case of sitting in front of a mirror and a camera and my dad playing with toys and race cars and that sort of thing to try and get me to laugh at the camera."

Jess Smith was paid about $350 for her Teletubbies performance

Considering the fact that her face was used in a total of 365 episodes of Teletubbies, you might imagine baby Jess Smith and her family were handsomely compensated. The trouble was, nobody (not Ragdoll Productions, the BBC, or the Smith family) had the faintest idea the show would become such a monstrous hit, and the fee that changed hands reflects that. 

The Smiths were paid just £250 (around $350 at the time) and given a box of toys, but they were more than happy with the arrangement and have no regrets. "It was just something a bit different to do and we didn't expect it to be as big as it was," said mama Anji Smith told Kent Online in 2014. Jess Smith doesn't harbor any ill-feeling toward producers either over the lack of residual cash, despite the series being shown in reruns all over the world. "I am sure I loved the box of toys," she once said (via the Daily Mail). "No one knew how big the show was going to be so we didn't get offered royalties."

The Sun Baby from Teletubbies watched herself on TV as a child

Like many British preschoolers in the late '90s, Jess Smith loved watching the Teletubbies come out and play. "I do remember watching the Teletubbies when I was a child," she wrote on Facebook in 2014 (via the Daily Mail). "When I was young I used to laugh along with the sun, but it was only when I got older that I understood it was me." 

For years, only Smith's nearest and dearest knew her Sun Baby secret. "My close friends and family knew, but it just never interested me before to tell everyone," she continued. According to local news outlets in Smith's home county of Kent, this reluctance to come forward about her part in the cult series was due in part to her being a shy child. As Smith later explained to Kent Online, "Everyone knowing would have been a bit scary."

Jess Smith's neighbors urged her to come forward with her Teletubbies secret

Even after the original Teletubbies run came to an end, Jess Smith kept her popular role under wraps for years, despite those around her urging her to step out into the spotlight and take some credit. 

"My neighbours said I should put everyone right as they would be annoyed if it was them," Smith shared in a Facebook post in 2014 (via the Daily Mail). To make matters worse, Laguna Beach star Jessica Smith was often credited for the role. "There has been quite a few people pretending to be 'the sun' but only I could tell you the real story," Jess Smith continued, after deciding the time was right to finally reveal the truth. "Everyone says they can see the likeness between my face now and me as a baby, I still have a baby face. I haven't changed much either. I am still giggly."

The Sun Baby from Teletubbies finally revealed the truth to university friends

Jess Smith waited until college to announce her showbiz secret to the world. "At uni we had to tell the person sitting next to us something about ourselves so I thought I would say it," she shared in 2014, while taking to Facebook to make the big reveal (via the Daily Mail). From there, her classmates encouraged her to embrace her famous past. "They encouraged me through it all. I thought I may as well tell them as I'm going to be spending the next three years with them."

Soon after, as mentioned, Smith dropped the bomb on social media. "So I've recently celebrated my 19th birthday and after a lot of thought, I've decided it's time to tell everyone," she wrote. "I used to hide it but ... I've gained the confidence to come out with it. I am the sun from Teletubbies." 

Convincing people she was telling the truth was simple — she just asked them to search for a picture of the Sun Baby online. As Smith explained to the British morning show Lorraine in 2017. "They don't recognize me without me telling them and then they have to Google the picture."

Jess Smith called out Laguna Beach star Jessica Smith

Jess Smith has hard proof that she is, indeed, the Jess Smith named in the Teletubbies' end credits. A letter sent to her mother in June 1996 confirms her prior involvement with the popular kids' show. "The filming will probably last no more than a couple of hours," the letter stated (via ITV). "You will be reimbursed for your travel expenses and Jessica will receive a present from Ragdoll Productions." 

That correspondence came in handy when Smith decided to debunk the rumors that Laguna Beach star Jessica Smith (above left) was the Sun Baby. "I'm not sure why the actress is claiming to be the face or why people think she is," the former child star wrote on Facebook in 2014 (via the Daily Mail). "She would have been 10 at the time of filming, and she doesn't even look like the baby."

The Teletubbies' Sun Baby was urged to pursue modeling, but is studying dance instead

According to Jess Smith, her family is proud of her for contributing to a show that became a global phenomenon. "My family will all remember it forever," she wrote on Facebook in 2014 (via the Daily Mail). "My nan has articles about me when I was a baby all over her wall ... I am proud. I wouldn't change it for anything." 

As the former child star matured, folks reportedly tried to convince her parents to steer their daughter toward modeling. "People told my mum that I should have gone into modeling but she thought it wasn't the right move to make as I was quite shy," Smith continued. So, with a career in modeling off the table, she has reportedly decided to pursue the performing arts. According to the Teletubbies alum's Twitter bio, she is "currently studying dance education" at Canterbury Christ Church University.

In March 2017, Smith posted a snapshot of herself hard at work on an assignment, giving her followers a glimpse at what attending one of her future dance lessons would be like. "I will always have extra games and activities planned in case the pupils work quickly and are well behaved," the assignment read. "I expect myself to have a lesson that flows and makes sense for the pupils."

Jess Smith celebrated the Teletubbies' 20th anniversary

It just wouldn't be right to celebrate 20 years of Teletubbies without the original Sun Baby getting involved, and as such, Jess Smith found herself in high demand in 2017. As well as her aforementioned appearance on Lorraine (which made headlines after Dipsy accidentally grabbed the host by the breasts during a badly-aimed hug), Smith appeared on BBC's The One Show

On the show, guest Holly Willoughby was asked to pick the Sun Baby out from the crowd, but ended up guessing a man standing two rows behind one Jess Smith. (Maybe Willoughby would have had better luck if she'd asked Google for a picture of the Sun Baby first.) Meanwhile, Smith also took to Twitter around that time to share photos from the Teletubbies anniversary event. "Had a lovely time at #Teletubbies20 celebration yesterday," she wrote to her followers. "Can't wait to see the new episodes."

Does the Sun Baby from Teletubbies have her own baby?

In July 2019, Twitter believed that the Sun Baby from Teletubbies had her own baby now, and people freaked out. It started when someone shared a picture of Jess Smith holding a smiley, blonde-haired child in her arms and claimed she was the mother. The tweet went viral, getting over 200,000 likes and triggering a mass midlife crisis. 

"This has made me feel 800 years old," BBC Radio 1's Greg James wrote in response, and he wasn't alone. Replies from shocked users kept rolling in, with most either bemoaning their age or expressing horror at the idea of the former Sun Baby engaging in intercourse ("That must've been hot," one user quipped). As it turned out, they were panicking over nothing — the baby in the picture wasn't Smith's.

The image from the viral tweet was actually an old promotional shot of Smith and baby Berry, who plays the Sun Baby in the Teletubbies reboot. Still, the rumor persisted, forcing the show to speak out and quash it. "No, the Teletubbies [Sun Baby] didn't have a baby," the official Teletubbies Twitter account confirmed. The image in question had been around since 2015, when Smith happily passed the Sun Baby torch. "When I was growing up I was always so proud of my involvement in Teletubbies," she told Digital Spy at the time. "Having met baby Berry and seeing how adorable she is I can't think of anyone better to take over the role."