Posting Date: March 14, 2014
Meet James Smith: Serious about his acting career
By Delaine Climmons
The first thing you notice about James Smith is a smile big enough to light up a major city, but he’s really serious about his acting career. In addition to his classes, Smith keeps busy by honing his craft and auditioning for upcoming roles. He is constantly auditioning for his next part.
He says, “I don’t think you should just sit around waiting for the phone to ring. I believe you should always be auditioning for other roles rather than wondering, ‘did I get the part or not?’” He says it’s important not to focus on when the role is coming, but rather to be prepared when it does arrive.
James is certainly landing the roles. He’s playing a lead character in the play “Ruined” this spring. Karen Robinson, Professor and Interim Chair of Theatre and Performance Studies (TPS), says, “James is a generous and compassionate actor who brings vulnerability and deep commitment to his work. He has a gift for eliciting empathy for his characters. It has been an absolute joy to work with him in class and in our production of ‘Ruined’ in which he plays a young man who is seeking fervently to reunite with his wife.”
Smith says he really appreciates the support he’s gotten from Professor Robinson. “She basically opened my eyes to how the real world works in this field. She doesn’t hold back,” he says.
In addition to Professor Robinson, Smith also speaks highly of Harrison Long, Head of Acting for TPS, and his instructor for Acting I and Acting II. “Professor Long’s primary objective when he comes to work each day is to see his students succeed. Everything he does is for the students.” Smith praises Professor Long for challenging students to work as hard as possible and to continue researching and looking for ways to improve.
In addition to receiving excellent instruction, Smith loves the diversity of the KSU student body. Smith, who is African-American, says the presence of various cultures on campus and in the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies really makes him feel welcome. “At the previous schools I attended, the student body was mostly Caucasian. It’s really nice to see African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and other cultures being featured in theatre productions and involved in so many activities on campus.”
Last year, Smith played “Reuben” in a play written, directed and performed by KSU students. “Reuben is a character who didn’t have a parental figure in his childhood. Later, as an adult, the lack of guidance affected his relationships romantically and socially. I can relate to this character. It was really fun portraying this guy.”
KSU is the third stop on Smith’s road to a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre. He started out at Valdosta State and later transferred to Georgia Perimeter before enrolling at KSU. Among other things, Smith likes KSU’s proximity to Atlanta and the numerous networking opportunities. “I love it here! I think KSU has one of the best theatre programs in the Southeast. I really enjoy it.”