Outer Banks actor Deion Smith talks acting, studying and getting into character 

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click to enlarge Deion Smith attended Charleston County School of the Arts

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Deion Smith attended Charleston County School of the Arts

Charleston native Deion Smith, better known to most quarantined Netflix bingers as Kelce in the Outer Banks, has been weathering current circumstances as best he can, trying to find inner peace in the midst of it all. In his downtime, Smith chatted with Charleston City Paper about a variety of topics from acting, to the character of Kelce and the future of the show.

ON ACTING

I kind of fell into acting without even knowing that I was acting. I really fell in love with making sketches and short films. I first started by filming my action figures with an old VHS camera my parents had laying around the house then as I got more skilled, I transitioned into uploading to YouTube. I would always make my friends and family members act with me in them. Those were the good days. I think I realized what acting really was after a couple years of attending Charleston County School of the Arts for theater.

HIS ACTING DEBUT

My first "professional" gig was for Charleston Stage. I did this play, Blue, by Charles Randolph Wright at the Dock Street Theatre. I was part of the youth acting troupe for Charleston Stage, and I had to do an in-person audition to get into that program. Once you get into that program, there's a bunch of plays they do throughout the year, and they just pull kids they need for certain productions.

HOW HE GOT THE ROLE OF KELCE

For Kelce in Outer Banks, I did this little thing all Southeastern actors know good and well called a "Self Tape." I got the breakdown for the role from my manager, and at the time, I wasn't that enthusiastic about it because I had just auditioned for The Walking Dead, and didn't hear anything back, so I was a little discouraged at that time. I was working at an Amazon fulfillment center in Georgia, and I hated it. Driving an hour to and from work everyday in Atlanta traffic, working 10 hour overnight shifts ... not fun. I remember praying to God everyday to get me out of that situation, and he did. My acting coach, Malik, and I sent in my tape, and I personally thought I did awful. A couple days later, while on break from work, I got a phone call from my manager telling me that I booked the gig! The rest is history.

WHAT HE DOES IN HIS FREE TIME

A lot of wondering, "What's next?" Thankfully, the show has been doing really well, so I've had that silver lining in all of this. I've been just trying to stay motivated in my craft, still studying movies/actors when I find time. When I'm not acting, I'm typically behind the camera. I'm a wedding filmmaker/photographer for Terrance Antonio Photography based here in Charleston and in Atlanta. I've been shooting with them since I was about 15. Terrance Antonio, the owner, is actually a brother to me and a mentor as well as Aaron Jamel, who also works with us. Other than that I love spending time traveling, fishing, playing video games and watching movies.

THE LAST THING HE DOES BEFORE STEPPING IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA

Pray to God. Everyday on the set of Outer Banks before I left my trailer to go film my scenes, I would pray. It just gave me peace and helped me with my confidence everyday on set.

IF HE COULD BE ANY CHARACTER ON THE SHOW ASIDE FROM KELCE

That's a tough one. I'll probably have to say either Pope or Rafe. I actually almost auditioned for the role of Pope. I just really like how he's the brain of the operation but also the realist as well. Also Rafe because I feel like it'd be interesting and fun to dive into his issues that make him as insane as he is. I love complex characters.

CHARACTERISTICS IN KELCE THAT HE SEES IN HIMSELF

I think Kelce is trying to find his place within his friend group and in life in general. I think it shows that he almost feels like he has to prove himself to Rafe and Topper throughout the story. He gets himself in the middle of a lot of drama and has to navigate through it while keeping his status in his friend group. I think these are things I've gone through in my childhood and still even go through now sometimes, unfortunately. But hey, we are all learning and growing.

ADVICE FOR THOSE WANTING TO PURSUE AN ACTING CAREER

Study the craft. I can't express that enough. There's no cutting corners. If you can afford it, get into a really good acting class. If you can't, that's not an excuse. Read books, read plays, study movies/actors. YouTube is a great resource. For a while I couldn't afford acting classes, so I would watch videos and study that way. Also make your own content if possible. Film yourself doing a scene from your favorite movie, or better yet, write and shoot your own short film. Get into some college student films, and build an acting reel. Find an agent. Acting is a tough field but can be rewarding if you just have persistence.

WHAT WE CAN EXPECT NEXT SEASON

Well, definitely expect more Kelce for sure. Expect even more action, romance, craziness, gold and attractive people. I'm just gonna let your imaginations run with that.

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