UWG Theatre Alumni to Star in Oprah’s ‘The Purple’


Smith (left) with Blitz Bazawule, Tiffany Burgess, Fantasia Barrino, Aba Arthur, Ciara Wilson, Coleman Domingo and Phylicia Pearl on the set of “Purple”

“I can’t believe I’m here.”

University of West Georgia theater alumnus Terrence J. Smith ’14 thought about this many times during his first day shooting for “Purple.” In this musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel about the struggles of an African-American woman living in the South in the early 1900s, Smith plays protagonist and narrator Sealy’s Son Adam. The cast and crew feature stage and screen legends — including Louis Gossett Jr., Taraji P. Henson, Quincy Jones and Fantasia Barrino — so the energy is palpable. “It was the first time I was on set with so many powerful black artists and creatives,” recalls Smith. “Seeing all these heavyweight actors, almost like royalty, walk around and stop and talk to you. It’s just amazing.” On the first day of filming, a surprise guest from the original 1985 film – Producer Filmmaker Oprah Winfrey visits. “She gave a great speech and was very emotional,” Smith shared. “This is when I really touched me and I was involved in a historic moment. I remember my eyes getting blurry and feeling this overwhelming sense of pride. When she spoke to me and complimented my work, My heart skipped a beat.” From a kid obsessed with “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” to a high school drama student, then a UWG drama student,​​​Smith prepared for the role his entire life. “My professors at UWG were able to provide a lot of hands-on, personal training to meet what I needed to be successful,” he said. “They’re not just teachers, they’re professionals who work consistently in the industry.” Smith also has close relationships with other drama students, notably Eric Graise ’15 – on “Step Up: High Water,” “Locke and Key” and the “Queer as Folk” reboot — and Candy McLellan ’16 — known for “Sweet Magnolias” and the upcoming “Florida Man.” “I love experiencing different people and learning about different things in the world,” He continued. “It wasn’t until after I graduated that I realized how much they helped shape me into who I am today. After graduating, Smith spent time with an Atlanta-area theater company, where he starred in adaptations including “Miss Saigon,” “Grease,” and “Hair.” In 2018, he signed with Alexander White’s agency , which landed him bookings for famous TV shows like the Age of Wonder reboots, Doom Patrol and the Ozarks. He also signed on to his first blockbuster, Tomorrow Wars starring Chris Pratt Smith has also been writing music for the past few years, something he loved while working at UWG, but never recorded anything with the encouragement of other theatre and music artists. “In 2020 After the George Floyd protests in 2009, my partner Alexandria Joy and I wrote a song called “8:46” to express our Feelings,” he shares. “Filmmaker Aaron Strand made the music video/short for the song, which won several awards, including Best Music Video at the 2020 Venice Short Film Festival. What’s next for Smith? He recently finished a short film “Westwood: The Blood” that can be viewed on YouTube, as well as an upcoming Apple TV show. But between pre-orders, shoots, and recordings, it’s available in Georgia Browns Mill Primary School in Stonecrest approached Smith to work with the next generation of actors as the school’s drama teacher. “Browns Mill is a first-class school and most, if not all, students have no exposure to drama. ,” he explained. “With very little funding, it was a daunting task, but I had the most incredible team working with me. We’ve been able to rock the community time and time again. I feel amazing when I book a new TV or movie role, but I’m probably most excited when I see my students go on stage and do things they never thought they would. That’s when I feel most like a star. “

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