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Maurice G. Smith: A Man of Integrity

Interviewed and written by Aaron Robinson - Editor

During a recent interview, I had the opportunity to speak with veteran actor Maurice G. Smith, a man filled with life, wisdom, love and lots of laughter. Many may know Smith as the character Reggie Brooks of “Meet the Browns.” In real-life he is one of the most humble down-to-earth individual’s - I have come to know. It was destined that he would find his calling as an actor. “I started off as a musician. I love music. I saw what music did to a crowd. I was always performing in things. In the Boy Scouts we had to do skits. I remember I was thinking that I was going to be a stand-up comedian. I was inspired by Spike Lee. I was like ‘man, I want to be Spike Lee, I want to be an actor and director.’ I had a cousin who had all these books and got me into reading books a lot. When I would see a movie “Jaws” or “The Shining”, my cousin, she had the books and I would read the book afterwards and my mom started noticing it. And I still do it today for certain movies,” inspiringly elucidates Smith.

Starting out in theater, Smith would eventually land roles in numerous productions such as “Cooley High – The Musical,” “Home”, The Old Settler,” and “The Piano Lesson”, where he won the Best Actor award in the Wilmington Drama League.  Later, he would go on to acting in movies. To name several films, he has appeared in blockbusters such as Mr. Deeds, where he worked alongside Adam Sandler and also in the film Bruce Almighty, where he worked alongside Jim Carrey.

Smith sets himself apart from many actors with his charisma, having an amazing stage presence unlike any other, while bringing versatility to his craft. Being comedic and also playing serious roles, he elaborates on the various methods of acting when he acts for television shows and movies, as oppose to stage plays. “The attentions are different. For example, “Meet the Browns” leans itself to a theater style, because it’s a three camera sitcom. Three camera sitcoms leans itself to the theater because it’s a little bit bigger. On film you have to be larger on stage because you have to hit that back wall. Whereas, for television, now I’m even a little bit closer to you, so it’s a little scaled down. Now you should always have subtleties in your work. You should not be over acting as they say,” articulates Smith.

Smith also coached in acting when he taught at Freedom Theater. He holds a B.A. in Theater Arts where he attended Westchester University. He also attended the prestigious institution of Mountview Theater Conservatoire in London, England, where he earned his postgraduate degree.

When it comes to television, the talented actor has had reoccurring roles in numerous popular shows such as “Viva Laughlin”, “In the Middle”, “The King of Queens”, “Back to You,” and “Meet the Browns,” where he plays the notable and loveable character Reggie Brooks. He speaks about his experience on the sitcom. “I loved to have been able to work with Tyler Perry.  Playing Reggie, being able to do that was a blessing! That character was only supposed to be on for three episodes. With what that brother [Tyler Perry] is doing in Atlanta is amazing! He is definitely one of the key parts of bringing Hollywood to Atlanta in the south.  He brought jobs. When I met him, I was like wow, this is Tyler Perry! My experience with him is that he is a funny dude. He is sharp on his business, but he is a funny dude.” Smith continues to speak highly of the show and cast he worked with. “I worked with Kim Fields, Chip Fields and Roger Bobb – great directors. David and Tamela Mann, they’re the greatest human beings on the earth! That love between them two, nothing is fake about it. I worked with Richard Roundtree, “Shaft”…wow! (laugh).These are the things that people are inspired to be inspired by. That’s all we need. That’s why our images are the way they are. I’m just so thankful for my fans that see that. I’m just thankful that my mom and dad raised me in such a way that it don’t go to my head. And if it do, I hope they check me,” joyfully expresses Smith.

Smith will play Mouse in the upcoming film “Better Criminal”. He speaks briefly about his character. “Mouse is a wild dude. Mouse isn’t as fun loving as Reggie (laugh)! Mouse is a wild dude. He’s a smart guy who’s kind of in the criminal world. He’s into a little bit of drugs and a little bit of everything. The movie takes place around a detective who has a little bit of shadiness himself. My partner is his informer. Mouse is a very charming dude. He can be direct, playful and he cares about his friends. Playing that dude was fun! He’s not a killer or a pushover. It’s a crime drama movie and that’s the role I play as Mouse. Then again, it was another opportunity where it was supposed to be a small role and I ended up making it to the end of the movie. The director kept bringing me back for different things. So, it was great! He was only supposed to be in the beginning.”

Besides acting, Smith has a passion for giving back. He stays active in various community efforts and initiatives. He is also a Kappa and remains active in the church community. “There are things that are being worked on that I’m excited about. There are foundations that I would like to put together because I’m into giving back. That’s my biggest passion. I definitely want to get together some sort of scholarship. I know how hard it is for kids to do theater. I definitely want to do something for diabetes and health issues,” genuinely says Smith.

As our conversation comes to an end, Smith shares some powerful heart-felt advice and words-of-encouragement to upcoming actors and actresses that are looking to make a living from the film industry. “It is doable. That’s the main thing. You have to know yourself. Trust yourself. Believe in God! Have faith in it. Make sure you study your craft. Have things that you’re hoping for that you can always be excited about. If it’s getting that Tony, work toward getting that Tony. Have goals. Vision yourself doing it; study. If you can’t afford to go to a university or a theater school, get in those plays, get in those classes… do those cast director workshops. Get it however you can get it. Make yourself a character and put it on YouTube. Get books. If you decide to go to the major cities, have a plan. Have a support base. I remember when I first got here [L.A.] I was on the set with an audition. Craig T. Nelson and John Amos both told me, ‘just hang in there, it’s going to come around.  Everyone always gets a shot.’ The thing is you don’t know how many people has packed up and left L.A. and there shot was just around the corner. Stay humble; stay focused. Don’t give up, unless you are at your end. Have your business affairs together. Know that this is a team effort.”