In life we all experience ups and downs, highs and lows but from these things we should all learn lessons. They shape the person who we are destined to be. Samuel Smith is a man who is living proof of that. Using his knowledge of life to accomplish everything he sets out to do. He has crafted his life around inspiring youth, entertaining the world through his acting and creating fashion for people to love. Samuel Smith is more than just a man, he is a creator. Check out our interview with this quintessential gentleman below!
Growing up in a single parent household, how do you think that influenced your journey into the arts of acting and designing?
I’m not really sure if growing up in a single-family household influenced my journey. I am very certain that growing up in a single parent household, with my mother, influenced every part of my journey. Let me explain. My mother, second of 8 children, somehow grew up shy and when she had my sister and I she vowed to herself that we wouldn’t miss out on opportunities because we were scared or shy. I can recall times when I was very young before I started school, where my mom had my sister and me in front of the church reciting Easter speeches and Bible verses. The confidence that I gained from being in front of an audience was intoxicating. My mom would buy us toys or reward us for doing a great job in front of the church. After a while, those gifts and rewards came second to the acknowledgment that I got from the crowd. I loved it and the more I wanted to do, the more my mom, the single woman in Miami Florida, found a way to make it happen. I can recall a time when I was watching TV at home and there was this kid that would host the afternoon cartoons and I looked at my mom and said, “I want to do that.” So this lady, this “never say die, you can do anything” woman, found modeling and acting classes for her little black children and signed us up not knowing how she was going to pay for it because she already had me in football, basketball and track and my sister in cheerleading and track and whatever else we wanted to do. My mom’s goal was to expose us to as much as possible so that when we got older we can make a more informed decision about how we will spend our lives. As a young man, there was nothing I couldn’t do.
And it was all because I had a mother who knew the more she put us in, the less time we would have to find out what the streets had for us. The designing part of my life I kept a secret. What a lot of people don’t know is I started designing back in middle school. I still have some of the designs of clothes and bags that I created as a kid in my apartment on my bookshelf right now. Every once in a while I’ll go back and look at it and it always brings me joy to see that I’m accomplishing the things that I said I would.
Having a passion for acting, how did you make the transition into designing?
My passion for performing is now and forever will be what pulls at my heartstrings so it doesn’t feel like a transition. I try to never act. I come from the school of BEING and according to Tonea Stewart, when you are BEING you just are. You just do. Designing is what I have always done. We are simply highlighting that part of my life right now. However, I will say the business side of designing is definitely different from the performing. As a performer, I am only concerned with my performance and the show as a whole. As a business owner and designer, I have to be concerned with every part of my design and that’s from the materials used, all the way to the finished product and customer service.
Who are some of your biggest influences in life?
Some of the biggest influences that I’ve had in my life have been men and women who were not afraid to bet on themselves. Individuals like Luther Campbell, Master P, Tyler Perry, Ava Duvernay, my MOM. Every one of the people that I’ve named wasn’t afraid to bet on themselves. They started their own companies, they live their own lives, and in their own rights were very successful. Now you may wonder why I put my mom on this list but this woman had to raise a young black man. My mom had this “No Excuses” rule in our house and when she found herself in a position where she couldn’t give an excuse she went out and made it right. My mom had only gone to school long enough to receive an AA degree and she kept preaching college to my sister and me and before we got up the nerve to ask how come she never graduated she went back to school when I started high school so that she would be finished by the time I graduated and therefore wouldn’t have an excuse not to go. Today my mother has her degree, my sisters degrees and my degree all in the plaque (in a cabinet or on the wall?) in her house. No excuses. Master P made a million dollars out of the trunk of his car selling his music from a label he created. No excuses. Ava Duvernay started a distribution company to make sure that the films that she would create had distribution. No excuses.
Being a creative, where do you think your creativity will take you next?
I truly don’t believe that there are boundaries to where my creativity will take me. My goal is to leave the world better than I received it. I wish to make the world think, laugh and at moments take its breath away.
What Legacy are you preparing to leave?
It’s been said, “It only takes one person to change the destiny of a family.” To change his family’s tree. My immediate legacy will be to create generational wealth. My goal is to provide a great starting place for every generation that comes after me. The legacy that I will leave with the community will be to partner up with other great people and rebuild broken communities. I’ve always been fascinated with Black Wall Street and how it took a single dollar a year to leave that community. I want to see that again.
What makes you a Quintessential Gentleman?
I’m humbled to even be in this conversation. I’ve seen the Quintessential Gentleman of times past and these men a truly phenomenal. I know that I’m a Quintessential Gentleman because that’s how my mother raised me. It is and has always been the man that I have strived to be. And because I believe in BEING, I am because I am. Being a thing (in this case a Quintessential Gentleman) and being recognized for that thing is and have always been different. I thank you for recognizing that difference with who I am and what my mother made sure she pushed me to be.
What is your advice to little black boys growing up without positive role models?
My advice to little black boys growing up without positive role models would be to assure them that their belief in themselves is all that really matters. Role models although they are very important can only advise them. Their belief in themselves is what will propel them to success.
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