CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) — By all accounts – Iowa native Riley Smith is living the good life. For the past 20-years – he’s called Hollywood home – as a singer – and working actor with film and t-v credits too many to mention. But there’s one *special studio he comes back to again and again, to help aspiring young actors and musicians follow their *own dream.
On a recent Saturday night – the feature act at the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy’s summer performance at Newbo was a band with a familiar face at the microphone. Riley Smith heads “The Life of Riley” – a band that’s put out three albums so far.
The busy actor and singer from Alburnett left for L.A. after becoming a model in his teen years. But despite his busy schedule – Smith takes time each year to return to his roots – coming back to Eastern Iowa to mentor eager actors and singers of all ages.
He says, “mostly I’m here to let them know that I’m from here, and I had those same dreams. I was just like them, and here I am now, and here’s how you can get there too if that’s what you want.” The coaching sessions at the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy are intentionally small.
One on one time together allows Smith to get to know each student’s strengths and weaknesses, and more importantly, teach them that through the arts, they can carve their own path to whatever stardom means to them. “It’s about the journey, not the destination. I look forward to seeing the kids grow here”, Smith said. Smith says when he gets stressed out by the industry – he comes home to Iowa. He calls it “defrosting” his heart.
He says everyone in Iowa is genuine, and that warms a heart that can get cold in the cutthroat entertainment business. Smith is now days away from the release of his long-awaited self-titled E-P. And with acting roles still rolling in – Riley Smith is a name to watch.
But his Iowa upbringing keeps this rising star humble, as he carves out one week of his own time to give back, encouraging students of all talent levels that they too can have a piece of fame. “Music, the arts and acting, you can do all your life. It’s a gift you can enjoy at any level. Whether it’s community theatre or Broadway, there’s a place for everybody in this business”, Smith said.
The album “Riley Smith” was released worldwide on July 21st.
Watch the Interview, KGAN/CBS2