Yandy Smith Talks Film Producing And Director Phenom Noel Calloway
Arts and Culture Career

My Journey Into Producing ‘Life, Love, Soul’ and My Inspiration from a Phenom Film Entrepreneur

VH1's top-rated show Love & Hip Hop might be known more for the brawls and drama than for its lessons on business acumen, but entertainment manager Yandy Smith proves there's more to the industry than reality TV fodder. Smith's worked her way up from being an assistant to industry power player and Violator Management co-founder Mona Scott-Young, to working with top talent including music artists 50 Cent, Missy Elliot, Busta Rhymes, Jim Jones, and television personality Tocarra.
  • Just in time for tonight's episode, Smith shares five tips for success that can be applied to any industry---for those just starting out on their career path or those looking to take it to the next level. ---Janell Hazelwood
  • Egypt Sherrod is an actress featured in Life, Love, Soul. (Photo: Sherrod)

    Once Life, Love, Soul was shot, what did you do to market the movie to get it in theaters, and what are you doing now to keep it there?

    I take ownership of part of that process. I spread the word through the Internet, bloggers, radio interviews, screenings, as well as the actors. The push will be people going out and seeing it and speaking about it through social media and telling people how good it is. That snowball effect is what will keep it in theaters. No matter what I do, if that register isn’t ringing then the theater will move it out and bring in something that can bring in those dollars. It’s all about the bottom line. It all comes down to business; It’s never personal.

    How did you get it into major theaters?

    We performed well at the festivals, people spoke about it, and AMC took notice. The Urban World Film Festival, which is one of the largest festivals specifically for black films, housed us and we won the Audience Award. We were the only film in the festival this year to sell out not only one theater, but two. That put AMC on notice that this is a film to keep an eye out for. When our distribution liaison for our theatrical release Camille Bradshaw mentioned Life Love Soul to AMC, they already knew about it, so the door was slightly open. It’s still a small trial acceptance but it’s an acceptance just the same. That’s why it’s important for people to get out there and see the film— the more seats sold the more our theatrical release will expand to other cities.

    Some people have said being an African American film writer/director poses more challenges and opposition. Do you believe this to be true?

    I don’t believe in using crutches to give you a reason not to succeed. Whether it’s your race, gender or religion, there are always going to be things that make you different that some people may look at as hindrances. I think it all levels out because everyone has them. For me, it could have been because I was black; I don’t believe I ever faced that but lets say that was the case. For another filmmaker it might be because of his or her religious beliefs. We never know what would be the great equalizer, but I believe it all levels out with a great project.

    What would be your last words to up-and-coming film writers, directors, producers and actors?

    The best way to sum it up is to use a sports analogy that applies to almost everything. It relates to something called the go-to move:  No matter what business you’re in, you have to have your bread and butter. If you’re in film and you’re a great director and your asset is the camera, then perfect that craft. If you’re a writer, perfect that craft. If you’re an actor, perfect that craft. In whatever it is you decided to do, perfect one thing first so you always have that foundation to fall back on or build from. For me, it’s the writing. I will always be a writer slash whatever else. I spend time and meticulous attention to the detail in every script I write. Always have that foundation, something you can fall back on and something you can draw your confidence and strength from. Then you can always accentuate the positive and your weakness won’t be so glaring.