Acting dream becomes reality

2012-06-15 00:00

FROM car salesman to award-winning actor — 59-year-old Reuben Smith is living his dream.

The Port Shepstone resident scooped an award for his first movie role that encourages people to look for happiness in the right places.

Smith’s efforts were recognised by his peers when he won the best supporting actor award at the first eThekwini Local Film Awards on Saturday at uShaka Marine World.

The film, Finding Joy, was broadcast on DStv.

Born in Johannesburg with acting in his bones, Smith out-performed 52 other hopefuls in KwaZulu-Natal for the accolade.

“People who I’ve worked with in the motorcar sales industry for 18 years have always told me to pursue a career in acting, but I had other things to worry about like work, because being a car salesman is not easy and I had to put my work first,” said Smith.

The now newly-accredited actor said he had no formal theoretical training in acting, but did short practical courses that helped him for his role.

“I did a course in social technique in 1981 in Joburg and started my own drama group where I taught youth acting. We performed in parks and people would surround us, watching with interest, but I became too busy with my work.”

Smith finally took the leap and decided to go back to acting after many years when the movie’s casting director Natalie Human told him he was the ideal age for the role.

“When she told me I would be perfect for the character she was looking for I was doubtful because I hadn’t performed for a long time. So I recorded a short video of myself and I sent it to her and after three days I got a call from the director saying he wanted me to be the lead,” said Smith.

He said the movie tells the story of two men whose lives are in a mess. The one character is unemployed and gambles for an income, while Smith plays a miserable man who lost his family and turned to alcohol for comfort.

“This movie shows how two guys find their way to living life the right way after they tried finding happiness in the wrong places, which are alcohol and [womanising].”

He said the movie was produced with R100 000 by untrained people.

“This award came as surprise because the people I worked with had no experience in film. Fortunately we got funding from M-Net that helped to make this more professional and appealing.”

He said he was waiting for a script for another movie.

The movie’s writer Njabulo Gumbi said he was very fortunate to have worked with Smith, because he was a motivation to others when times were tough on and off-set.

“He’s very passionate about everything he does and the energy he has is amazing and he deserve to win. There were times when many people were quitting because we couldn’t shoot but he stood confident and hopeful and he’s a star in the making, despite his age,” said Gumbi.

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