He hails from the mid-sized metropolis called Grand Rapids, Michigan and possess the unique combination of style, creativity and fierce ambition to create a life of pure artistic destiny. Robert Smith has been groomed for greatness from the minute he was born and it is within this understanding that the world gets to experience his daily testimonials to a life lived without fear or boundaries. A life in the arts. A life in LA.
This Ferris State University Communication Major was born to live the destiny he has carved for himself in the world of photography, fashion stylist and entertainment reporter to the stars. To live a fabulous life one must possess a certain level of fabulousity and Rob Smith bathes in the glow of fab. Having returned back to his original birthplace of LA some 12 months ago, he has taken his signature brand consultancy agency Smith Worldwide to global heights, travelling to exotic destinations like South Africa and Hong Kong to personally style and photograph photo shoots for various branding and imaging clients. As a stylist Smith has worked with some of the urban music industries finest and fussiest artists, tweaking their looks to perfection. Artists like SWV, Brandy and Michelle Williams (Destiny’s Child) to name a few have all been touched by Smith magic! As if that wasn’t enough, Smith has channelled his communication skills and leveraged himself as an urban pop culture and celebrity correspondent for one of the US leading entertainment blogs The Jasmine Brand, working the red carpet at a plethora of Hollywood events. He has interviewed the likes of India Arie, Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Keke Palmer and Meagan Good to name a few and delivers each interview with his signature sass and style. This brother is busy!
What makes Rob Smith so unique is his eye for detail and his passion for living a life undefined. He is a god-fearing man who acknowledges and walks in his blessings daily, never forgetting to praise where he has come from in light of where he is going. He is a citizen of the world and captures images through a lens that celebrates diversity and originality in all he encounters. Above all else Rob Smith and his Smith Worldwide brand is one that symbolises style, honesty and the acceptance that the power of art, beauty and the colour of life surrounds us in everything we do, and reminds us that living with an attitude of gratitude opens doors to a life beyond our dreams!
Such a pleasure to touch base Rob – thanks for your time. How are you and how has life been treating you?
Absolutely! It’s always good catching up with you—never a dull moment. Life has been exceptionally well. I feel like I’m beginning to understand this next chapter I have strategically arrived at. Now you have been through some major career changes this past year moving from the quiet life in Grand Rapids MI to the flashing lights of LA – what brought about this change and how have you adapted to living to LA? I was born in LA, but raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a mid-sized metropolis with a population of about 900,000. After graduating from Ferris State University as a Communication major I landed a job for the City as an Emergency Communication Operator better known as a Police Dispatcher, however, that only fed my communication and civic side. In 2008 I launched my company Smith WorldWide, a boutique creative agency where I provided freelance services based on my gifting’s and skill set. After a decade of dispatching I started feeling unfulfilled. I’d been in and out of LA working for years: photo shoots, video sets, and other projects, but I was ready to make a more permanent change. I decided to resign from my career, leaving a massive amount of surety to trust God, trust my gifts, and trust what I was internally hearing: It’s time to fly. So, I did. I traded my proverbial briefcase for a set of wings and I flew; literally. I have adapted well to this environment. It helps that I spent the last decade travelling the world, everywhere from Dubai to Bangkok to Cape Town with plenty of pit stops to LA in between. Living here, is a completely different experience from being a mere visitor, but LA welcomed me with open arms. My second day here, even before my boxes were unpacked, I was working on a film set with Vanessa Simmons. Further confirmation that I was right where I need to be.
You have been on your hustle hard since arriving in LA as an entertainment correspondent for some major online media outlets such as The Jasmine Brand to name a few. What has the experience been like thus far for you and why this line of work for you? As I mentioned, I launched Smith WorldWide in 2008. That’s my ‘bread and butter’ so to speak. Through the agency I offer the services of 1) Wardrobe styling/Personal Shopping/Closet reconstruction. 2) Photography (fashion photography is my niche). 3) Creative Direction 4) Brand/Marketing Management. Some of my recent projects I’ve tackled through SWW are: Assistant Stylist for singer Brandy, Assistant Stylist for Michelle Williams (particularly the ‘Say Yes’ video w/over 6million YouTube views. I’m also featured in that video as an extra). I’ve also been blessed to work as the Creative Director and Photographer of two high fashion photo shoots I conducted in Cape Town, South Africa, working with signed models and designer, Luiz DeLaja. Lastly, I just recently contracted a new corporate client that I handle I serve as Brand and Marketing manager for the company as well as its CEO. A brotha is busy. On the side, I am utilizing my communication skills and knack for pop culture and celebrity news by serving as an entertainment reporter with Jasmine Brand (www.TheJasmineBrand.com), one of the leading, urban pop culture blogs in the States. With a monthly visitation, hits, clicks, impressions of 2 million per month, we are the go-to for celebrity news. I am dispatched to most of Hollywood’s hottest red carpet events, major award shows, movie, premiers, celebrity gifting suites, etc. to interview celebrities in order to obtain content for the blog. So far, the experience has been awesome. I’ve gotten the opportunity to interview a slew of celebrities, many I’ve admired all my life: India.Arie, Ice Cube, Brandy, Kevin Hart, Tika Sumpter, MC Lyte, Keke Palmer, Kelly Price, Wale, Omarosa, Bow Wow, Meagan Good, Melissa McCarthy, and many many others.
In the world of music and entertainment, especially in a city as fast paced and competitive as LA, how do you ensure that you are an original and ahead of the pack, especially when it comes to showcasing your fabulous style? As it relates to my style, I’ve always been different. I’ve always been fearless. I was this way in somewhat quaint Grand Rapids so I tend to fit in well here in LA. One key component to my personality and character is that I am original. I follow some trends, but they always have to be done the Smith way. That slight degree of difference is always what has pushed me over into the original or unique category. One thing about LA: You HAVE to know who you are BEFORE you get here. It’s one of the things I’m most grateful for, regarding my move here. I had a pretty tight handle on not only who I am, but who I am becoming, because after all this is a journey of growth and exchange. As far as standing out and staying ahead of the pack as it relates to the work I deliver, I approach each scenario like a God-given assignment. I REALLY try to listen to why this person or project has come across my ‘desk’ and approach it from that angle. Asking myself, “what story am I supposed to tell” through this photo shoot, “what set of questions does the world need to know?” or “what does this artist need to answer so they can hear the answer coming from their own mouth and maybe change their own paradigm?”
On the red carpet with Ray J @ Hollywood Confidential 2014
Now you are also an amazing photographer, having captured the inner essence and outer style of the African American community for years. Your expedition to my home land of South Africa earlier this year unearthed some beautiful images through your lens and has no doubt upped your style ante. What is your creative ethos when it comes to capturing your images and what are you doing career wise with the photography arm of your brand? I’ve always seen life as pictures. I can look at a salt and pepper shaker on a restaurant table and know the proper angle to shoot it from so you see the glare from the light overheard while still capturing a tiny bit of the restaurant without totally divulging the exact location—And all that before I even sit down to eat at the table. I’ve always seen it that way. Because I’m so moved by the artistic expression called Fashion, I tend to approach all photography from a fashion-fuelled perspective. Even if I’m shooting a chef’s food items for a menu, it always has a couture vibe to it. So, that’s my ethos, that’s my approach. I recently trekked to South Africa, my third trip there. I coined this adventure as: The Exposition: Journey to South Africa. While there, I set up two photo shoots with an amazing Brazilian designer, Luiz DeLaja, who I’ve worked with in Cape Town before. We worked with two models, both of which, I have also worked with before. What’s amazing is, the female model, Giannina Oteto, is from my hometown, Grand Rapids, but happened to be working in Cape Town. Two hometown dreamers meeting up across the world to do what we love doing was an overwhelmingly amazing experience. I continue to shoot while here in LA. Mostly fashion-focused shoots. I have a shoot coming up next week with a model and we will be shooting a campaign we’re pitching to Jermaine Jackson, a friend of the models, for consideration for Jermaine’s bottled water brand. Aside from that, I’m requested in Michigan about every other month where I usually offer hometown specials for people there who want to shoot with me. Those are usually really successful. On a recent trip there I had 15 shoots booked!
Image Credit : Rob Smith @ The Smith Way
What is it about life, music and fashion that inspires you so much to change your whole world around? It’s not so much about life, music, and fashion, albeit, those are all great things, for me it’s more so about the pursuit of purpose. I believe we are gifts and there are talents. Gifts are built into our DNA and God’s divine intention for us, and how He intended us to impact the earth. Talents are things that are inerrant to us based on ability, activities we grew up doing, mental capacity, etc. They have to be trained and honed. That combination of gifts and talents wasn’t given to us to sit and look cute or to gain a following or to become famous with. We were given those gifts and acquired these talents so we can impact the world, solve a problem, and change the faces of influential and impactful places in and throughout the world. I want to be a world changer. The gifting’s and skill set that God decided to give me was not best facilitated in Grand Rapids. I had to uproot from my place of comfort so I can fulfil my assignment, which happens to involve changing the face of the entertainment industry WITHOUT letting it change me!
What are you currently working on right now, new projects, travel etc.? Currently I’m really involved with managing the brand of my most recent client. It’s an interesting brand and the gig is somewhat new so I’m spending a lot of time perfecting my approach for that. As far as industry related work, I am up for consideration for a talk show that comes on a national network to have my own segment on said talk show. We’re waiting now to see if it returns for another season. I’ve also been in talks with the producer of ‘The Talk’ with Sharon Osborne, who are interested in featuring me on the show as a Social Media Commentator. I’m also teaming up w/a production team and we are currently in the midst of creating, casting, and filming the sizzle reel to a show we’re creating in order to sell and get a greenlight for from a network. I’m also working on character development for a scripted show I’ve created and 4 reality/reality competition shows I’m also developing. I’d serve as producer/writer and sell those to a network. Recently, I just came up with another idea of doing short reports about pop culture, music, fashion, spirituality, and anything in between by using the platform of Instagram. I called it #15SecondsWithSmith based on the notion that Instagram only allows you to post 15 second videos. The inspiration ones I’ve coined as INSTAration. I thought that was cool! I also do Creative and Business consulting where people book me for hour sessions on topics such as branding, auditioning, how to move across country, how to break into the industry, etc. Aside from that, and my assignments with The Jasmine Brand, I’m staying busy with the freelance opportunities that come via Smith WorldWide. Sounds like a lot, right? I get to create all day, for a living.
Rob on the red carpet with singer Elle Varner (BET Honors – 2014)
How can people find Rob Smith online? I’m everywhere you are. Here is my online real estate: Website: TheSmithWay.com Instagram: @SmithWorldWide Twitter: @SmithWorldWide Facebook: Facebook.com/SmithWorldWide Youtube: youtube.com/ApostleSmith Tumblr: smithworldwide.tumblr.com
The music or songs that define or describe who you are? Great, but tough question. I would say the MUSIC that best describe me would be some sort of Hans Zimmer movie score: symphony music with sounds from every instrument, well rehearsed with high’s and lows and, even if its playing in the background, it still sets the tone and tenor of the scene or the movie, which often, I feel like my life is somewhat cinematic. As far as a particular song: I’d say, maybe Kelly Price “It’s My Time” or Paramore “Ain’t It Fun” or Mary J. Blige “No More Drama.”
Your greatest motivations in life? Having a true, pure, and unfiltered encounter with destiny is a big motivation for me. I want to meet and shake hands with my ‘best self.’ Making my mom and brother proud and representing my city is also something that pushes me BEYOND the barriers on my rough days!
For more information on Rob Smith visit:
Website: TheSmithWay.com Instagram: @SmithWorldWide Twitter: @SmithWorldWide Facebook: Facebook.com/SmithWorldWide Youtube: youtube.com/ApostleSmith Tumblr: smithworldwide.tumblr.com