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The Hustle

Name: Ward Smith (Studio Grand Central)

Posted By Bill DeYoung

Ward Smith's father was Hugh Smith, the longtime news anchor for WTVT - he spent 27 years with what was then Tampa Bay's CBS affiliate. Ward himself is well-known in the community - he's an actor, director, singer and standup comedian. Since February he's been the owner - along with his sister Karen, his business partner - of the former Andi Matheny Acting Studios at 2260 1st Avenue S. They bought the 3,000-square-foot building to turn it into Studio Grand Central, a rehearsal and performance space for local artists, plus classrooms for budding actors. Smith is directing the Off-Central Players' first show, the drama "Rasheeda Speaking," through Sept. 19. He's in the cast, too.

Years in Tampa Bay

55 (3 in Houston)

Hustle (job)

Producing Artistic Director for the Off-Central Players/Studio Grand Central

What do you do?  

Produce, instruct, and develop effective theatrical storytelling for St. Petersburg’s diverse community. We plan a host of several relevant and thought-provoking creative performances. We also provide a venue for students and performing artists in the St. Petersburg area to showcase their works.

Why do you do it?

How the @#$! do I know? Too stubborn to do anything else HA. It’s in my veins. During the pandemic, I was pressed for work. Productions everywhere where shut down; some auditions but very little. For years, sister and I had kicked around the idea of finding a space. Lo and behold the pace we’re in now became available. Told my sister about it and things took care of themselves.

What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)

Growing up seeing my dad on television and thinking he knew everyone who came out of that box.

What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?

How much work goes in to these production. The hours/months of offstage work that goes into a 75 to 90 minute piece

What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?

Maintaining the will to hustle. An actor’s job is looking for work. Now that I have a place and am able to produce work, the hustle now is letting people know we exist and to build an audience.

What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?

Never give up and never lose sight of what you want. Like the scouts: ‘Always be prepared’ as you never know how or when your dreams, prayers or ideas may present themselves.

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