One word to describe content influencer and former UCLA student – athlete, Jerrold Smith, is talented. I have had the great opportunity of knowing Jerrold since high school. I’m a couple of years younger so, Jerrold has been a great representation of what a role model can look like as a young man trying to make it in the world. His increase in popularity came after his journey as a collegiate basketball walk-on went viral on Sports Illustrated. After sports, Jerrold went on to pursue a career in entertainment, where he spent two years with popular Los Angeles entertainment agency CAA. After his tenure with CAA, he went on to work under Westbrook Inc, a media and entertainment company founded by the Smith Family. Check out more of Jerrold’s Story below.  

Who are you? What do you do? Where are you from?

My name is Jerrold Smith II; I’m a former athlete, content creator, influencer, and entertainment marketing, specialist. I’m born and raised in Ladera Heights, CA.

What was the turning point in your career? Where were you before that?

The turning point in my career was when the craft I had dedicated most of my life to was something that I could no longer lean on. I spent the first 20 something years of my life focused solely on playing basketball and taking that as far as I could, and when I hit my peak in playing in college and realizing that I wasn’t going to play professionally I had to pivot very fast. I began to realize how applicable the lessons and skills you learn through sports are within other lanes of life and industries, and for me especially within entertainment. When I was playing basketball, as a small guard I had to be super vocal, command my space, and let people know what I was seeing or feeling on the court at all times, and that’s helped me as I transition into entertainment because as I sit in boardrooms with talent, product meetings, brand meetings and etc. I’m able to lead and direct when necessary because it’s what naturally comes to me. Right now I work at Westbrook Inc., the media and entertainment company founded by the Smith family, but before I spent 2.5 years at Creative Artists Agency.

How has your life experience shaped you?

My life experience has helped me to look at everything with a no task too big, no task too small type attitude. I personally feel like there haven’t been too many qualifying events in my life to date, but the things I have been fortunate [or unfortunate] enough to go through have helped me plan and prepare for any success and realize that any failure can be pivoted from. I feel as if everything I have in my life to date is something that I had to work to get, nothing was ever handed to me. And remember that in everything that I do pushes me to give 150% in any situation, whether it requires it or not. Oftentimes others take the opportunities handed to them for granted, but when you’ve had to work for everything you have you learn to approach things a lot differently.

How do you practice awareness? How do you maintain your best self and manage your day to day experiences?

I practice awareness by just trying my best to live within each moment as I go through something. A lot of the time I get caught in my own head and end up overthinking a lot of situations, and learning to just be in the present because it’s a moment I’ll never get back has helped to alleviate a lot of the anxiety overthinking brings me. I maintain my best self by connecting with those closest to me and allowing them to pour their energy into what I have going on. I know that anything I’m going through I don’t have to do it alone, and realizing that helps me personally feel like I can conquer anything.

What are some important issues you’d like to shed light on? How would you do it?

Important issues that I like to focus on are mental health, especially within the Black male community. It’s more often than not frowned upon when Black men we share their feelings, or present any type of persona other than that of the stereotypical “strong Black man”. Relying on your village, letting people know that you don’t have to go through things alone and that even if there isn’t someone immediately close to you that you feel you can rely on for help or guidance that there’s always someone out there that can and is willing to help. And dismembering the idea of the perfect persona. This is one I struggle with on a daily basis, when you appear to have everything figured out or others look to you as the example for most, but I’m coming to learn that, at any age, you don’t have to have life completely figured out, just as long as you’re happy and making strides to do what’s best for you. I do it by being comfortable with who I am. Today’s society is so reliant on comparison between people, things, situations, and etc. which is already immediately unhealthy because no two people will ever be the same. Realizing that it’s ok to be you and do things at your own pace is the first step. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.