Ellie Smith grew up in Auckland where she attended Auckland Girls' Grammar School and learnt speech and drama. She got some radio work and appeared in the pioneering local television drama series, Section Seven, before travelling to the UK. She worked there through the 1970s, including seasons in the original London productions of The Rocky Horror Show and Chicago along with The Beggars' Opera, Toad of Toad Hall, and a national tour of The Rupert Bear Show.

Having returned to New Zealand in 1981, she initially did cabaret spots on the Hudson and Halls TV programmes and worked on stage.

She was an early Lotto presenter on local television, hosted a number of light entertainment series and acted in:

On British television, she was seen in Perfect Scoundrels, and the Noel Edwards Breakfast Show.