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'Empire' actress gives locals tips on making it in film

Actress Tasha Smith was in Chicago on Wednesday morning having just wrapped filming for another episode of hit TV show "Empire."

Smith plays Carol Hardaway, sister of Cookie Lyon (played by Taraji P. Henson), on the show which airs Wednesday nights on Fox.

"Empire" has been a runaway success for the network and Smith says it's all about offering something fresh.

"It is the new, fresh, innovative way that Lee Daniels created for TV. This show is full of entertainment, drama, sex, everything. I understand why it is one of the best shows on TV. You have some of the most talented people in the industry on the show and some of the most talented writers on the show," she said.



Smith, who also just wrapped her fifth season as female lead on Tyler Perry’s "For Better or Worse" sitcom on OWN, is headed to Atlanta to offer something fresh of her own to aspiring actors through her Tasha Smith Actors Workshop (TSAW).

She has been teaching acting for over 10 years and began bringing TSAW to Atlanta about eight years ago. The current sessions take place November 7-8 at Theatrical Outfit's Balzer Theater.

"There are so many more productions happening in Atlanta, New York, the Carolinas and Miami and there are so many people who desire to be actors. Because there is so much production in Atlanta I thought it would be a great place to come to yearly to empower the acting community," she said.

Smith is no stranger to our city. Her mother, Monique, lives in Atlanta. Her grandmother lives in Atlanta. And she has a host of other family members throughout the metro area. When she's in town, she hits Chops Lobster Bar and soaks up some culture through art festivals, live music and more.

Through her workshop, she hopes to give Atlanta-based actors the kind of confidence needed to get started in a tough industry.

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"A lot of times actors come in and there are so many obstacles they may have…that get in the way of them communicating in the way they desire as actors. Hopefully by the time they leave TSAW they are empowered with information and tools that build their confidence," she said.

Smith's favorite advice is from the Book of Galatians. "The best piece of advice I've ever gotten is to not grow weary by doing good for in due season you will reap if you faint not," she said.

When she's feeling weary, Smith gets lots of rest, works out and prays. She finds time to be still. "When you sit still and have a moment of prayer you can rejuvenate your spirit. I also tell myself it is going to be okay. Life is pre-destined. What is going to happen is going to happen," Smith said.

For her immediate future, that means continuing to pursue her directing career -- she recently directed a short film about a young man with bipolar disorder -- and continuing to grow and find great opportunities as an actress.

She said she hasn't yet had her career defining role, but she is sure that it is on the way. Until then, she's following her own advice.

"I say, be as patient as you can be with yourself as well as the process of this industry," Smith said. "That is from the book of Tasha."

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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.