BE Modern Man is an integrative program that honors the essence, image, and accomplishments of today’s man of color. With features of today’s leaders, executives, creatives, students, politicians, entrepreneurs, professionals, and agents of change—these men share the common thread of creating a new normal while setting the bar in tech, art, philanthropy, business, and beyond. The BE Modern Man is making a positive impact, his way, and has a story to tell.
BE MODERN MAN SAMUEL SMITH
Name: Samuel Smith
One Word that Describes you: Free
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
Let me start by saying it’s truly an honor to be in such great company. Being a black man, it’s important to set daily goals to live on purpose. I strive to never give up on what I believe I am here to do. To be noticed for the things I’ve set out to do is an absolute honor. Being named one of BEMM 100 Men of Distinction inspires me to do and be better! This honor gives me the opportunity to be a role model and the chance to be a positive influence on children, family, and the community overall.
What are some examples of how you have turned struggle into success?
About 10 years ago, I was weeks away from being evicted, I created a company that taught theater arts and empowerment to students in Brooklyn, New York, “Inception of Genius.” I learned a long time ago that the best of us live our best lives serving others. My roommate had just moved out and I was left alone to cover the rent of a three bedroom apartment. I was barely making enough money to cover my half of the rent, let alone making enough money to cover the full cost of the apartment by myself. Things had gotten so bad that the landlord had taken me to court at least twice. I even had to talk the Marshall down from closing my apartment doors and not allowing me to be able to enter my apartment. I had a few jobs at the time, one of which was a teaching theater and after-school programs. I knew I wasn’t making enough money to cover rent as just an artist but I did know that there was more money in owning the company that got teaching artists jobs for the school programs. That’s just what I did. I created a company, Samuel Smith L.L.C. and went and secured a contract that got my landlord off of my back.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
An individual who is willing to do more than what’s required. Self-starters, loyalty, and honesty.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
I’m currently on NBC’s Shades of Blue with Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta, Skate Kitchen with Jaden Smith came out on Aug. 10 and I just shot See You Yesterday, directed by Stefon Bristol. In addition, my partners and I are in development with two pilots that we will be shopping this coming fall. I also have a luxury leather handbag company for men and women, Samuel León Leather, which I’m very passionate about.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
The best advice that I have ever received was to stop waiting on other people to do what they said they were going to do. Continue to work and if those people come through, good, if they don’t you would not have missed a beat because you never stop working.
What advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Win in small increments and it will lead to big gains. There will be ups and downs, but as long as you’re moving in an upward trajectory, success will follow. Don’t wait on a torch, a specific time, or a perfect storm to act. The future is now.
What is your “Extraordinary Impact”?
To date, the work that I am most proud of is the work that I am doing in District 19 in Brooklyn with My Brother’s Keeper. Under the leadership of Dr. Thomas McBryde, Curtis Smith and I are mentoring over 400 young men in over 30 schools in the district. We meet with our mentees every week in small groups and once a month, which over 400 young men attend. Our focus is to show and help to guide our young men in how they should act and be seen in our community and in the world. We deal with an array of topics from social and emotional wellness, personal hygiene, and respect for others just to name a few.
It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @BEModernMan and join the conversation using #BEModernMan.