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27 Jan 2023

Local talent Samantha A. Smith shines brightly in ‘The Best Man: The Final Chapters’

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January 27, 2023 Category: Entertainment Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO: Samantha A. Smith (Photo courtesy: Samantha A. Smith)

By Kharisma McIlwaine

In 1999, audiences fell in love with the romantic comedy “The Best Man.” Written and directed by Malcolm D. Lee, the all-star cast included Taye Diggs (Harper), Nia Long (Jordan), Morris Chestnut (Lance), Harold Perrineau (Julian “Murch”), Sanaa Lathan (Robyn), Monica Calhoun (Mia), Terrence Howard (Quentin “Q”), Melissa De Sousa (Shelby), and Regina Hall (Candace). In the film, the group of college friends reunite for Lance and Mia’s wedding in New York only to discover some very damaging secrets from Harper’s debut novel, “Unfinished Business.”  Fifteen years later, the friends come together again during Christmas in “The Best Man Holiday.” 

Now in the third and final installment, the gang is back nine years later for one last hurrah in the Peacock limited series “The Best Man: The Final Chapters.” Fourteen-year-old local talent and shining star Samantha A. Smith joins the cast as Kellie Murchinson, the daughter of Julian and Candace. Smith spoke with the SUN about her path to acting, working with the iconic beloved cast, and about what she hopes to do next.

Smith’s family and friends recognized her bubbly personality early on. They encouraged her to explore something in the entertainment field which led her to pursue acting.

“When I was younger, maybe like 2 or 3 people would tell me that I had such an animated, lively and entertaining personality and I should try performing, acting or singing,” Smith said. “I tried it, and ended up loving it.” 

Smith went on to hone her craft by taking classes and studying with coaches. She began booking through an agent locally before finding a national agent and manager in L.A. 

As Smith auditions and adapts to self-taping due to COVID, she also maintains her schoolwork and is a well-rounded 14-year-old. 

“It’s been a little bit difficult sometimes — balancing a lot of schoolwork recently and acting at the same time,” she said. “Sometimes getting three or four auditions a week can be a lot, but it has kind of just become part of my daily routine. I love acting and I’m so passionate about it that I always make time for it.”

Smith’s hard work is paying off. She landed her first big role as Roxy in Disney Channel’s “Saturdays.”

“Early in 2021, I auditioned for this upcoming Disney channel show called “Saturdays.” I auditioned for a bunch of roles in the show while they were casting it,” shesaid. “I actually ended up booking one of the three main roles at the time. It was my dream role. You know, being a kid and watching Disney, and then actually being able to be on it, is a completely different thing. When I got it, I just broke down, cried and screamed. It felt like this [was] going to be a breakthrough moment for me.”

Breakthrough is exactly what Smith experienced after booking the role of Roxy on “Saturdays.” She went on to book a national Pop Tarts commercial and then landed the role of Kellie in “The Best Man: The Final Chapters.” 

“I got an audition from my agent, and it included the sides and the character description, and it said that it was for “The Best Man: The Final Chapters,” Smith said “Growing up on movies like that, I obviously knew what “The Best Man” was. My mom and I watched both of the movies again just to refresh [ourselves] on the storyline, all of the characters and familiarize myself with my parents. I [worked] with my acting coach, I recorded it and submitted a self-tape. Usually, I’ll get a call back or it’ll be a whole process to book the role, but fortunately, they just offered me the role this time and I went to set a few months later.”

Smith expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to work with such a talented cast. “I think I was more excited than nervous, knowing these people from growing up on movies like “Boyz n the Hood,” “Brown Sugar,” “Love Jones” and “The Best Man,” Smith said. “It’s a really comforting feeling just knowing that they’re normal nice people. They’re just sweet and personable, and it felt like coming to set with my family. It was a great experience talking to every single one of them, and I learned something different from every single one of them. I saw their work ethic firsthand. The first day was a little scary, but after about two minutes I felt, like, ‘I’m comfortable with them’ — ever since then it’s just been great.”

In addition to the great work ethic and warm welcome Smith experienced on set, there was a lot of laughter.

“Regina is hilarious, so is Harold, so is my sister Jamilah,” Smith said. “I had scenes with a lot of the “big 8” on the show and everybody is funny! There’s obviously a level of professionalism, but when the cameras weren’t rolling, we were always joking and laughing and having a great time. They’re all so hilarious. We did TikToks with Harold and Taye Diggs — it was so much fun, and everyone was just awesome.”

Though the laughs in “The Best Man: The Final Chapters” flowed freely both when the cameras were rolling and when they weren’t, the series also does not shy away from addressing genuine topics and problems within our society. In one particular scene, the Murchinson family comes face to face with a “Karen.”

“The scene was very intense when we saw it on Peacock, but it was a lot of fun,” Smith said. “One of my favorite things about “The Best Man: The Final Chapters” as a whole and “The Best Man” as an entire franchise is I feel like the storylines always touch on real-life situations. Even “Karen” encounters and “Karen” situations — there are real “Karens” out there. It was enjoyable, and she was sweet during the scene, but at the same time it was touching on real-life scenarios that kids, parents and everybody goes through.”

“The Best Man: The Final Chapters” brings audiences along for the ride of the growth of these beloved characters. It also gifted Smith with an opportunity to grow as an actor.

“Honestly, I think playing off of the adults was the most challenging,” she said. “They know the storyline and they know their characters way better than we do, since we’re so new coming into this and they’ve been playing their characters for years. It wasn’t as much of a challenge as a getting used to sort of thing — seeing them improvise or sometimes adding a little touch, another line in or a laugh in. It was about challenging myself to be comfortable enough to take those risks and knowing that taking those risks will make the show better in the end. I’ve learned that every detail matters. I notice those little details that the “big 8” make. They think through everything. Even though it’s natural, they’re very intentional with everything that they do which is something I respect and hope to grow and get better at.”

“The Best Man: The Final Chapters” does not disappoint and will make you fall in love with the characters all over again! All episodes are available to stream on Peacock. To continue to support Samantha on her journey, be sure to follow her on IG @official.samanthasmith and on TikTok @sammismith. 

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