What all can you say about actor Samuel Smith? He’s talented, educated, hard working, visibly appealing, but more than anything he’s a good person. He’s the type of person who you want as your friend or neighbor. Though it doesn’t seem that way since he’s taken on the role of a man who was recently released from prison on the NBC cop drama Shades of Blue, starring Jennifer Lopez.
You’ve probably seen Samuel on popular television shows like House of Cards, Daredevil, Persons of Interest, The Good Wife, and The Sopranos. He’s appeared in the musical biopic Cadillac Records, which also featured Adrien Brody, Gabrielle Union, Columbus Short, Mos Def, and Beyoncé. However, his role in Shades of Blue might be the first time that he has ever had to play a man who could have been one of his childhood friends or himself.
Samuel’s character Wallace is the brother of Detective Marcus Tufo, played by Hampton Fluker. Prior to becoming a member of the Shades of Blue cast, Samuel was already a fan of the show. The character of Marcus Tufo was one of his favorites, so it’s ironic that he was given the opportunity to portray Marcus’ brother. The Tufo brothers grew up surrounded by a life of crime, however, they eventually followed two separate paths. Marcus went into law enforcement, while Wallace went through gangs and prison.
Wallace’s history includes stealing cars and gang activity. Definitely not the type of man that you would want your daughter to date, let alone marry. He’s recently out on parole and hopes that with the help of his brother Marcus, he can seek redemption and change his life. However, he struggles with trying to survive in the outside world, especially when some of his past decisions come back to bite him in the behind.
The role of the brothers is interesting because they both started at the same place. However, when you view them separate as an adult you see a bad man fighting to be good, which is Wallace. Marcus, on the other hand, is a good man, who is slowly showing his bad side, mostly because he’s a fiercely loyal person. It just reminds us that people have different sides and depending on the situation and the circumstances a sheep can quickly transform into a wolf.
The struggles of growing up in a neighborhood where criminal activity is prevalent are things that Samuel knows all too well. His he grew up in a less than affluent household in the city of Miami. However, he was fortunate enough to have a family that decided to do things differently from the people in their community. Even though his family didn’t have much, Samuel’s mother was determined to keep her children productive and out of the streets. She occupied their time with activities such as church, football, modeling, and judo. According to Samuel, his mother grew up as the shy kid. She didn’t want her children to miss out on any opportunities simply because they were the person standing in the background with poor social skills, scared to speak.
There was also the notion that an idle mind is the devil’s playground. Samuel and his siblings were able to stay out of trouble because their time was always taken up by productive activities. Not to mention, by his mother pushing them into different things, she was teaching them to explore different paths and to find their passions. It worked out because they learned life skills that they were able to immediately put to good use.
At an early age, Samuel already knew that he wanted to be an actor. It was something that always came easy to him. After revealing that he had found his passion to his mother, she took it upon herself to start the process of getting pictures taken and finding him an agency. He started getting auditions soon after.
By chance, Samuel found himself in the acting program at Alabama State University. He knew it was the place for him to be after meeting the school’s Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, Dr. Tonea “Tommie” Stewart. Not only is Dr. Tommie a scholar, but she’s also a working actress, mostly known for her portrayal of Aunt Etta Kibbey in the popular television series In The Heat of the Night. The show ran from the late 80s to the early 90s. She also appeared in A Time To Kill and The Rosa Parks Story. More recently she was cast in American Horror Story, Lottery Ticket, Mississippi Damned, and also has a few projects set to come out this year.
After attending studying acting at ASU, Samuel went on to receive a Masters in Fine Arts from Brandeis University. He later moved to New York City to live out his dreams as an actor and immediately found an opportunity to teach acting to children in schools. It was the perfect job for him, not only because it involved acting, but the schedule allowed him to continue auditioning for roles while holding down a job.
Samuel loves working with kids. He dedicates his spare time to continue teaching kids acting and life skills through his Empowerment Program. He’ll even try to visit local schools when he gets an acting job that requires him to go on location. Similar to his mentor Dr. Tommie, Samuel enjoys the managing his time between acting and his students. He enjoys teaching his students how to develop a plan, overcome obstacles, and face adversity head on. Lessons that are key in acting and life. He’s not the type of person to give a thirty-minute speech, but rather create scenarios. Giving kids an example of certain situations that will prepare them for the experiences that they will encounter.
The kids who Samuel mentors are in the same place in their lives where Wallace and Marcus were when they embarked on separate journeys in life. It’s during this time that adolescents make decisions that could either help them grow or damage their lives. Sometimes temporarily but often times the damage can possibly permanently impact their lives. However, there are people like Samuel Smith who dedicate their time to providing active role models for underprivileged youths. He is the perfect example of what a sociable, polite, discipline and all around wholesome person look like. Who knows, maybe he’s already helped a couple dozen Wallaces become a Marcus; without all the corruption and drama that’s shown on Shades of Blue.