Level up, V1

Get into BossMode with Actor Riley Smith

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Can you share a time in your life where you trusted your intuition? So we can encourage people to believe their own inner voice as it can lead you in the direction you are meant to go in.

For me, trusting your gut and intuition has always been the most significant and most important thing. My experience with Proven Innocent was the icing on the cake. By trusting your instincts, you’re making the right choices, and it all paid off. That would be the prime example. I was on a show called Life Sentence this past year, and they had not been renewed yet, but they had not been canceled either. They were up in the air, and something in my gut told me that I need to see what else is out there for me. I didn’t know where they were going with my character’s storyline. No one was really saying anything to me, but in my gut, I just felt something wasn’t right. Everyone on the show was like, “you’re crazy, they love you, and they are going to write for your character next season." Even my managers and agents said, “they just signed you to a big deal, why do you have these feelings?” After the very last episode, I went to the creator, and I said: “would you let me out of my contract?” They were very cool about it, and they didn’t have to be. I owe them a lot of gratitude for allowing me to trust my instincts. It ended in a very significant way for everyone. Everyone was very gracious. It ended perfectly for me (laughs) because I got the other show.

Another one would be--one time I was switching managers about twelve years ago. It felt like I met with every management firm in the city. I narrowed it down to two, and they were both great. One of them gave a razzle-dazzle-- “promised me the world” type of speech. The other company was very down to earth, honest and made no promises. I walked out of that meeting and looked at my agent and said: “that’s where I want to go.” She was like, “are you sure? The other place is offering the world. They gave such a good pitch.” It was almost too good, and something in my gut just tells me that I need to go to the place that is more honest. I went with them, and it was the best move I ever made. I’ve been with them for twelve years.

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This is a challenging industry to be in. Was there ever a time you felt discouraged? How did you overcome that? What advice would you give to others based on your own experience?

I have had moments where I felt really down. It was interesting because I was going through an age change--I wasn’t playing a kid anymore. I was in between ages, and I had my own identity crisis. I was trying to figure out who I was and who I was going to become. Everybody in the industry was trying to figure out where I was going. I kept saying to people around me (my managers and agents) “I’m not doing anything different.” I just have to keep trusting the process and doing what got me this far--not trying to jump ship or change the game plan. I mean obviously, the only way you are going to get better is by accessing and tweaking and always molding yourself to be better. However, there is something to say about trusting your gut and the game plan. I feel that a lot of people in this industry that move to this city are chasing what they think they are supposed to be or how are they supposed to act all the time. They are constantly reinventing themselves, and they are just throwing darts trying to be whatever they think is the right thing. The first thing my manager--my very first manager-- told me when I moved to L.A. from Iowa was, “what separates you from everyone else is that you’re from Iowa. So don’t change and don’t become like everyone else. Stay unique and true to who you are.” I think that’s the best piece advice I ever got because I did listen. Here I am, to this day and still wearing my cowboy boots (laughs). I’m a blue-collar midwest guy, so there was no reason for me to be something I’m not to please other people.