Reaching for the stars with Rod Smith

Tenacity and commitment have helped keep this aspiring actor’s dream alive, Rod Smith tells Clare Kennedy

Not everyone has an easy ride to success. “All my siblings have successful jobs and their own homes, but I was a late bloomer,” says fifty-two-year-old Rod Smith, who was in the army reserve, suffered from a broken marriage and became reliant on a disability pension.

“When I was young, I went to school but didn’t do much homework. I spent most of my spare time watching movies. When I left school, I worked as a cleaner, did odd jobs around Gisborne and Sunbury and worked on the family farm with Dad for most of my life.”

But when his father died, a figure with whom Smith shared a special bond, he was forced to rethink his life’s direction. “It was a spur to push myself more to realise my potential as an actor,” he explains.

Extra work

In fact Smith has nurtured a love of performance his whole life. He scored his first role as an extra in 1987 and has since been an extra in a long list of productions including feature film Charlotte’s Web, TV series’ Neighbours, The Flying Doctors, Offspring and TV movie: Jack Irish: Bad Debts (2012).

In 2009, Smith landed his first acting gig in a stage play, Black Rock, with the Kyneton Theatre Company.  It was one of those lucky breaks that came about when a friend encouraged him to audition. “I was inspired that night,” he recalls. “I just grabbed the local paper and applied.” He was delighted to win two roles in the play – a detective and a toy boy.

But it was his bit part in Jack Irish: Dead Point (2014) that sealed the deal, he says. “That role really spurred me on to learn more about acting. I looked at myself and thought, ‘I can do better than that!’”

Smith attended seminars and acting master classes in a bid to develop his skills and confidence. “I was told I had stage presence so that was encouraging,” he smiles, naming screen legend James Dean as one of his idols.

Lucky break

Last year Smith’s desire to further his career bore fruit when he was offered the lead role in a short film, Thrombosis (2014), directed by Daniel Pearson. The film was entered and accepted at the 2014 Munich Underground Film Festival. “It’s a very dark film, but I loved playing that part because I put all my emotions into it, it came natural to me,” he explains.

Smith is represented by the actors’ agency agent

“They’ve given me some great parts over the years. They’re a great mob to work with. It’s not that hard if you have an open-hearted relationship with your agent. You just go on, and do your job, and do it well.”

Smith finishes our conversation on a poetic note. “Every night when I see the stars, I think of Dad. I want to travel my path with his wisdom. Life each day is a blessing for me, and now I have played a lead role in a short film, I am on my way to that star and beyond.”

Spoken like a true thespian.


Photo supplied by Rod Smith.