Tasha Smith is part of network television's hottest new show, Empire, as Taraji P. Henson's sister, but in real life, the prolific actress is building an empire of her own. In addition to expanding her resume in films and TV and launching her first fragrance in 2011, Smith is building a following as one of Hollywood's most sought-after acting coaches.
Speaking to Black Enterprise, Smith reveals that working with acting teacher Ivana Chubbuck changed her life and helped her overcome her troubled past. "She taught me to not be ashamed of anything that’s ever happened," Smith says. "There was a time I was so ashamed of my past, but she taught me how to use my past to create. After studying with her for some time, it became healing for me. Acting and creating was therapeutic. It empowered me."
After Chubbuck asked her to teach an acting class for a group of Black actors, Smith realized she had found her calling. "I went and I did it, and it was like, ‘Oh my God. I’m supposed to do this.' So I ended up opening [the Tasha Smith Acting Workshop] 13 years ago," she says. "Then I started teaching seminars all across America. I love teaching as much as I love acting. It is my ministry. I have a big sign up in my school that says ‘This is the church of acting.’ I do coach a lot of celebrities, singers, actors, and I don’t always share all of that because I respect their privacy."
On whether her past drug use and bouts with abuse have made her a better actor, she says, "I would not want to say that. Although I may come where I come from, and I had bad experiences, [those] experiences are relative." She continues, "I don’t think everybody has to come from the ghetto or has to have drug experience, or had to have a parent that was on drugs, or had to be raped and molested in order to be wonderfully creative. But the one thing you have to have, the main thing, is compassion for humanity."
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(Photo: GP/Star Max/FilmMagic)