Star on the Rise
Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 14, 2007
He started out modeling on high-fashion runways. Since then, he's played a soldier, Spider-Man and a pro baseball player in promos, commercials and movies.
His name is Fredrick Smith and this Butler County native's star is on the rise.
The 1999 Georgiana High School graduate was first featured in the July 26, 2003 edition of The Greenville Advocate.
Back then, Smith was juggling his undergraduate work at Faulkner University, a job at Best Buy and modeling assignments through the Elan Agency of Birmingham, a branch of world-renowned Elite and Casablancas Agencies.
These days, he continues to pursue his dream of a career in the entertainment industry. Smith uses the memorable name “Flamond”(“being known as Fred in the modeling world was kind of boring”) as his professional name.
The aspiring star is still juggling - albeit in a very different climate from the one where he grew up.
“After graduating from Faulkner in December of 2003, I moved to Phoenix, Arizona. I wanted to try something different in a totally different place with lots of opportunities,” Smith explains.
He's been working on his Masters of Public Administration and Health Care Management, doing work with the Maricopa County Juvenile Probation Department and going on plenty of auditions and casting calls.
“Moving here been a big change, and a change for the good. Opportunities are endless. The job markets in the entertainment world and the normal working world sometimes seem endless,” Smith says.
“The best thing I like is the diverse cultural mix of people, ideas, everything. Yes, I am busy
– there is tons to see and do in a metro area of almost five million people.”
In addition to his roles in commercials for Subway and the MLB All Stars for FOX Sports, Smith was also chosen to appear in the BBC Docudrama, “Future Shock Comet.”
What started out as an extra's role on the English production, expanded for the fledgling actor.
“By the second day of the shoot, I had a more featured role. I started out simply as an extra whose sole purpose was running, as if running for my life trying to escape a comet,” Smith explains.
“Then I was chosen to play a FEMA agent in the situation room trying to figure out how to get people to safety on the East Coast before the comet hits and causes a ripple effect. I also played the part of a soldier who was trying to maintain peace while the citizens were trying to flee to safety.”
“Future Shock Comet” should air in the U.S. on BBC America in the coming year.
Smith filmed a commercial with famed racecar driver Adrian Fernandez for Lowe's that will air only in Mexico.
Smith was also chosen for an NBA commercial, a gig that ultimately fizzled due to scheduling conflicts with the players.
His latest project is an upcoming television series, “Unjust,” for which he recently filmed scenes that will appear in Episode 5 of the series.
The auditioning process for acting jobs can really vary, Smith says.
“It might be a one-in-one interview with the director, as in the case of the Subway commercial, or the agency will send out a casting alert. If you fit the description and are interested, you can reply and they will submit your head shot for you to be considered for the job.”
Smith adds that in some cases, “you have to read a script in front of a panel of those in charge of the commercial, or just simply do a one-on-one with you and the camera.”
When asked about making the transition from modeling to commercials and movies, Smith said the transition “has been very easy, to be exact.”
“Of course, with modeling, you only have to hold a certain mood for a short period of time; in acting, that can be a lot longer. Filming can also take a lot longer,” Smith explains.
“There are times when we've been on the set for 12-plus hours. That doesn't mean we actually shoot for 12 straight hours; there are a lot of breaks between shots.”
Smith has also done promotional work for The Phoenix International Raceway and for the Spiderman III movie in April.
“I dressed as Spiderman and posed for pictures with the kids. I found out wearing a Spiderman costume looks a lot easier than it may seem,” he chuckles.
“All in all, it was a fun, but tiring, experience.”
During April, Smith also appeared in the upcoming show, “A Game Show in My Head,” the work of prankster Ashton Kutcher.
“This show should air in the fall on CBS. It's an American version of a U.K. game show, in which contestants will do crazy things trying to win a million dollars. There's even a hidden camera element, like Kutcher's ‘Punked,'” Smith says.
June, between work, filming and attending the BET Awards last week, “was a busy but rewarding month for me,” he adds.
“I got to meet a lot of interesting people while in L.A. auditioning for BET - the recording artist Stat Quo, Samantha Mumba, an international pop star and actress, and RZA, a rapper, producer and actor with the legendary Wu Tang Clan,” Smith says.
The Butler County native is managing to keep his feet firmly on the ground in spite of rubbing shoulders with celebrities.
“I think the biggest thing that keeps me grounded is having a normal job to always fall back on. Also, having that Faulkner foundation that has helped mold me in becoming a person with high character,” Smith says.
He also credits those “small-town” values he learned growing up in Georgiana, values that have sustained him through good times and bad. Smith, who lost his mother at a young age to tragic circumstances, is determined to remain a strong, positive role model for his younger sisters and for other young people in the community.
And the world of entertainment is not all glamour.
“It's been a journey these past few years. It may all seem fun and exciting, but it's also a lot of hard work and dedication,” Smith says.
“At times it can be a little discouraging, both in how long it takes to get things done in the industry and how people can and will say bad things about you. I've only had a few commercials and a small part in a movie - I'm no superstar yet – and I've already heard rumors and lies that make you sit back and think, is it really worth it?”
At the end of the day, the answer for Fredrick “Flamond” Smith is clear.
“This line of work is what I love and enjoy. I've come to realize once the gossip starts, that's when you really know you've made it!”
Next May, he hopes to move to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, one of the richest places on earth.
“I'll be done with school for a while, and I will put my total focus on my entertainment career - and making it to the top,” Smith says.