Roger Guenveur Smith Goes ‘Inside the Black Actors’ Studio‘, Discusses Being ’Self Made’ Opposite Octavia Spencer, Spike Lee Similarities, Ellis Marsalis Jr. Devotion and Art Being the Only Way to Survive This

Written by: Danny Royce – April 5th, 2020 4:54pm pst

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From Frederick Douglas to Booker T. Washington, Roger Guenveur Smith continues to add prestige to his resume.

Smith recently joined Black Hollywood Live and Danny Royce ‘Inside the Black Actors Studio’. The two actors discuss Smith’s role in ‘Self Made’ starring Octavia Spencer, his long-time friendship with Oscar Nominee Spike Lee, and the future of Hollywood after this pandemic.

Credit: Netflix

Smith’s career spans over three decades and he has been in more than 100 films. He can currently be seen on Netflix in ‘Self Made’, a film released March 20th that chronicles the incredible story of Madam C. J. Walker, who was the first African American self-made millionaire. Smith plays Booker T. Washington in the film.

When asked what was it like stepping into Washington’s shoes Smith expressed, “Booker T. Washington has always been fascinating to me and to anyone who loves American history. To be able to work with the dynamic talent which is Octavia Spencer and Kasi Lemmons was something I was really looking forward to and feel very blessed to have done. Walker is the hero of the series and the hero needs to have antagonists. Washington was that antagonist.”

Smith has had a relationship with Lee for over three decades and has worked on many projects, such as: Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, School Daze and many more. He is also set to be directed by Lee in ‘Frederick Douglas Now’, a biopic about another powerful historical figure. Royce asked Smith what important aspect kept their relationship going for so long. Smith stated, “We see eye to eye, culturally, politically. Even though he’s considerably shorter than I am. Malcolm X resonated with both of us. We have intuition, connection, and trust.”

Smith and Royce’s interview was the first interview conducted via Zoom due to the #coronavirus. Smith had thoughts to share about the pandemic, the late Jazz Legend, Ellis Marsalis Jr. and the impact on the future of the industry.

Smith shed tears over his late friend and legend. He stated, “I had the fantastic opportunity to see the entire family play last year in Jazz Fest in New Orleans. That was a sacred moment which spoke to the past, but it also speaks to the future. If we as artists can devote ourselves, commit ourselves, discipline ourselves to the same degree Mr. Marsalis has done and did, then I think we’re going to be okay. I think if we can survive the virus of slavery, the virus of the holocaust, we might be able to survive this thing as well. Art is the only way to survive!”

Credit: Netflix

You can catch Smith on ‘Self Made’ streaming on Netflix.

If you love Black Hollywood Live’s ‘Inside the Black Actors Studio’ and enjoy hearing these amazing stories be sure to share this with a friend and follow us on Instagram. Catch new episodes every Thursday! See you inside the studio!

About The Author:

Danny Royce is the host of Black Hollywood Live’s Inside the Black Actors Studio. He’s also a working actor in Los Angeles and can be reached for bookings through

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