Claim Your Power
For the 26th National Conference in Washington DC, TCG is highlighting the current recipients of the Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowships and the Leadership U[niversity] One-on-One Program, the Rising Leaders of Color, and the four finalists for the Alan Schneider Director Award. These programs are unique to the field, and provide critical support and mentorship for the future leaders of our art form. In honor of our longstanding commitment to professional development across the field, we are excited to continue to host the Spotlight On Series throughout the spring leading up to the conference.
TCG: When was the moment that you decided to become a professional theatre actor?
Keith Randolph Smith: I decided after the first play that I was ever in. It was during college. I was majoring in journalism. I saw a notice around campus for an audition for Marsha Norman’s play Getting Out. I waited until the last day of auditions before I got up the courage to go in. I got the part and entered a world that was foreign to me and received baptism by fire. Everyone else in the play was a theatre major and had done many plays. I was and am thankful to them for guiding me, teaching me, and being patient with me. I changed my major after the show closed. I had found a space where I could explore the world through writers who looked at the world with different eyes and experience many different lives and times, without leaving my own little corner of the world.
TCG: What is one conversation you would like to have with other actors to address an obstacle facing the acting profession?
KRS: In addressing this question, I first wanted to define what an obstacle was and I found such synonyms: barrier, handicap, disadvantage, chain, hurdle, drawback, and encumbrance. I have found that there is much that I as an actor cannot control but there are two things that I can control and that is being prepared and being on time. The other things are circumstances and how I perceive them. I could look at these circumstances as barriers but I have learned to view them as opportunities. I do my best, on that day, and allow others the privilege of doing their best, in auditions, rehearsals, and performance.
TCG: What would you say to other actors about this issue?
KRS: I would say to focus on what you can control and do not spend energy trying to figure out what others are thinking. I have over the course of time learned that I have personal power and I should not hand it over because I want a job. When I walk into an audition, that is my time to share what I feel and think about a role and the material. I prepare well and bring all of me into the room and let someone else be concerned with the outcome. I did my best, that day. My objective is to have great experiences in the room and not be concerned about getting a job. The jobs will take care of themselves, if I am present and prepared.
TCG: What was a moment in your career as an actor when you felt connected to a larger community either locally, regionally, nationally or internationally?
KRS: Once I left school and went out into the world of theatre, and in my case the city of Cleveland, Ohio, I started meeting actors from New York at the renowned Karamu House, along with the incredibly talented actors of Cleveland. I came to New York to study at The American Academy of Arts and met others from around the world that wanted to pursue a life in the theatre. I started working at theatres across the country and met amazing actors in every city that I was blessed to work in. I had the great fortune of working at The National Theatre in London and again met great actors at every turn. It was these experiences that made me realize that I was part of a long tradition of theatre makers and part of a worldwide community of artists who play an important part in transmitting and sharing cultures, and giving audiences a chance to reflect on who they are, what they are capable of, move them to change the world that they have inherited, or even a chance to collectively sit together to think, laugh, cry, get angry, or learn what it means to have this human experience.
Keith Randolph Smith is currently On-Broadway in American Psycho and has been in other Broadway shows: FENCES, KING HEDLEY II, PIANO LESSON; SALOME, and COME BACK LITTLE SHEBA. Keith’s Off-Broadway credits include: JITNEY(Second Stage), FABULATION(Playwrights Horizons), INTIMACY(New Group),FIRST BREEZE OF SUMMER(Signature),HOLIDAY HEART(MTC),BEFORE IT HITS HOME(Second Stage). Regionally, Keith has worked at the Old Globe, the Goodman, La Jolla Playhouse, Seattle Rep, the Huntington, Cleveland Playhouse, Actors Theatre of Louisville, City Theatre-Pittsburgh, and others. Keith received his training at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
TOP: American Psycho, directed by Rupert Gould, photographed with Benjamin Walker-Schoenfeld Theatre NYC-photo by Jeremy Daniel
SECOND: Looking Over The President's Shoulder by James Still-Merrimack Rep-photo by Meghan Kriegel
THIRD: #5 by Lynn Nottage, from show I'm Not The Stranger You Think I Am for T41-photo by Piotr Redlinski