I am blessed with many phenomenal people that walk into my life un-expectantly. Levensky Smith is one of those beautiful souls that God used as a vessel to assist me in accomplishing my youth outreach goals. He ended up becoming a trusted friend and confidant.
Though I am often in awe of the gifts people like Levensky are blessed with, I am MORE fascinated with why God chose them with the responsibility of having that gift.
This feature will show you just that…you will see why God chose Levensky to do what he does via Broadway, the gift of song and dance.
– La Tasha K. Mason
Follow me on Twitter @Tash1216
You were born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, a city that was once synonymous with struggle, poverty, and violence. Many called it the murder capital of the US. Most black males end up in jail or dead. How did you become an exception to the rule escaping harsh statistics to move on to NYC performing on Broadway?
I was born in the midst of extreme adversity/confusion in my own home and my hometown environment in Youngstown, Ohio. Within this labyrinth of social and economic disparities, I was guided, initially, by three main influences: My Sister, My Mother and my own active, vivid Imagination which filled me with lofty dreams. Living and working in New York City is just an aspect of reaping what was sown back then, as well as believing and daring to take the risk toward a goal when I was old enough to do so.
Was it always your dream to be a dancer and/or singer?
Did you foresee yourself performing in Broadway plays?
My first main dream was to be an Olympic Gymnast when I was 5 years old. Though, my sister influenced me to dance and sing before this because she was a natural performer, and she taught me her artistic skills because she recognized my natural abilities.
I never ever planned to be on Broadway. I believe Spirit led me to that medium of Performing Arts expression as Destiny. I was in the right place at the right time with the goods necessary to accomplish what I was asked to do. Thanks, sis, for the early preparation.
How old were you when you did your first performance ever whether it be singing, dancing or acting? Walk me through the process, your thoughts and preparation?
I was 6 when I sang my first solo, “Oh Holy Night” in the school Christmas play. My first grade teacher recognized my singing talent and decided to display it. It was an opportunity for me to gain recognition in school (which I desperately desired) in order to show my peers what my family and I did at home for fun. Plus, I desired to be like Michael Jackson, and this was my taste.
Now tell me about your first Broadway performance and process associated with that.
My first Broadway show was “CATS” in 1994. 5 years after graduating high school to pursue a dance career in music videos (which never quite happened the way I planned). That 5 year journey prior to the Broadway opportunity was filled with hardcore focus and training to become a well-rounded technical dancer (ballet, modern, jazz). I was mainly a street/social dancer with gymnastics as my base. I learned technique mostly from other trained dancers in the shows I was involved in until moving to Chicago 1992-94 where the real growth took shape performing in 2 concert dance companies. My J.O.B was to DANCE in Chi-town. By the time I auditioned for “Cats” in NYC- Aug.1994, I was complete and lacking nothing for the role of “Tumblebrutus” which required singing, dancing and gymnastics abilities.
What was it like being casted for the Broadway production, “The Color Purple,” and working with Oprah Winfrey as well as Fantasia Barrino?
The Color Purple came at a time of immense transformation in my Spirit. The show/story was Art imitating Life for me on several levels. It came at a time when I had been out of work and borderline destitute for over a year and a half in NYC, and I was hungry for a breakthrough. I met Oprah on May 19, 2007 after she came to watch the company’s performance, and she willingly took a photo with me backstage after the show. That was a Major defining moment for me. Oprah is a TRUE Queen!!!
Fantasia was nothing short of pure unadulterated talent! Though she was new to Broadway, her singing and acting skills made her the perfect choice for the part of “Celie”. She was magical to listen to, soaring through the notes that others, with trained abilities, struggled with at times. What made her even more amazing was her confident Spirit. She is sweet as pie, humble, vulnerable, and anointed with that something much bigger than herself. I saw “IT” in her eyes.
What other big Broadway plays were you casted in and who else did you have the opportunity to work with? What did you take away from these experiences?
I was an original cast member of the World Premiere of “The Lion King” on Broadway in 1997. Heather Headley was one of my cast mates back then. Heather was very focused, prayerful and unpolluted from all the revelry others were involved in. She set a great example for me long before her name became known. She was kind-hearted and talented. I watched and learned, as always.
Did you ever attempt to dance and sing on other platforms? If not, why? If so, how is Broadway in comparison to other platforms?
Definitely. I was a lead performer in “Fame, The Musical” in Germany 1997, just before The Lion King, and in Australia 2000. As prestigious as Broadway shows are, none of those shows gave me the celebrity status that I received from the people during these two ventures. I was well taken care of abroad. I must add that living in Australia in 2000 provided the reality of a lost lifelong dream of being in the Olympics. The director of Fame, David Atkins, was also the artistic director of the opening Ceremonies for the Sydney 2000 Olympic games. He asked me to join a cast of 120 or so indigenous Africans as their lead dancer for the Africa Float. I opened that section of the ceremony with a flying back layout somersault before dancing my heart out in front of thousands at Olympic stadium. It was a dream come true within a surreal dream sequence. I couldn’t believe that a young black kid from Youngstown, Ohio, was there doing and living a dream. It happened to me; it can happen to anyone.
Where did you receive your training and who influenced you the most?
I received formal dance training at Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, and in Chicago with the dance companies. My sister, Michael Jackson, and Paula Abdul were my top three dance influences.
You also dabble in modeling. Tell me about that.
In high school, a part of me wanted to be a clothing designer, another one of my sister’s influences. So as part of my own investigating, I had a subscription to GQ Magazine. I ended up wanting to be one of the guys wearing all of those cool clothes. Ultimately, I wasn’t too serious about the modeling aspect because I had a short stature, and I didn’t believe I was handsome enough to pursue it. Then, when I was in Chicago, I was introduced to modeling as a dancer. That sparked a new desire to do print work.
You do image consulting? I don’t think I knew that. What does being an image consultant entail and what type of person does your clientele typically consist of?
Yes. I am somewhat new to this venture, but I have what it takes to help transform the image of men who are looking to refine themselves through Health, Social Etiquette, and Style Upgrading. My extended world experience has been my teacher, and I am ready to share the knowledge. One must not be afraid to express themselves to the fullest. He, who has ears, let him hear.
Tell our readers about how you triumphed and were able to overcome many obstacles and how you made it through.
Prayer, Meditation, Perseverance and Faith in the good of Life, regardless of the worldly condition, has preserved my flawed existence.
“Valley Gold Show” Debor’ah w/Broadway’s “Levensky Smith”
As a very spiritual person who always knows exactly what to say and stays positive in any given situation, I feel blessed to call you friend. Where does that stem from?
GOD and GOD alone…One should seek that as 1st priority above ALL whatever you conceive/perceive IT to BE!
Let’s talk about love. Are you an eligible bachelor or are you taken? Describe the soul mate for Levensky.
I have been an eligible bachelor for a while and that’s been on purpose. I have dedicated most of my LOVE and time to my career because it’s necessary for any meaningful accomplishments. What a sacrifice! I guess I have been somewhat selfish and seriously meticulous about whom I’m with or surround myself with because I have tasted the sting of heartbreak, and I am honestly allergic to rejection from the ladies. I knew early in my career that a relationship would hinder my growth because I was unwilling to commit to anyone. I was more interested in establishing and discovering my “Self”. Maybe someday Spirit will lead me to the right One.
Although you’ve traveled abroad and accomplished many things, you always find time to return to your roots and give back to the community. What advise do you give youth that may not see a way out of troubling circumstances and because of that are likely not to pursue their dreams unless people like you expose them to new things?
Find God within yourself first and Trust God only! Respect yourself always, and everyone else regardless of who or what you may think of them. We all suffer and fall short of Perfection. Mankind is fallible by nature. There will always BE some opposition from family and friends, mainly because they do not understand what Spirit has placed inside of YOU to accomplish in this lifetime. Avoid being a Follower!!! That is complete dangerous territory to allow someone to dictate or control who you are, and remember that everyone that says they are your friend, truly isn’t. I had to learn this lesson the HARD way a few times, but I got it now! Pay close attention to how people treat you, not what they say to you. Remain teachable from those who may be wiser and more experienced than you.
Every life circumstance, regardless of how horrific, is preparation for what a person will become later in life, so NEVER give up. It’s a matter of the voice one chooses to listen to from “WITHIN”. School and your education is literally preparation for Life! Acquiring the knowledge are your tools to construct the type of life you desire. I ALWAYS “marched to my own drum” regardless of the consistent ridicule and peer pressure I received due to my individualism, and IT WORKED! Trust your instincts, and follow them unswervingly!
Where else has your gifts and talents taken you journey-wise and business-wise?
Wow, many places…The Caribbean, Malaysia, Thailand, Italy, Canada, Abu Dhabi and Dubai/UAE.
Define what success means to you and then tell me if you embody your own definition of success? If not, tell me what changes you have made and will make to meet your personal standards of success. If you do embody your own definition of success, how did you get there?
For years, success meant making it to the top, becoming BIG TIME, so I could live securely and comfortably then take care of my family and loved ones without any stress. Naively, I put most of my emphasis in life on my career. Since I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world to be exposed to life in its many forms, I have come to understand that peace of mind, knowledge of self and a life dedicated to God’s Perfect Will and Plan is the meaning of success to me. I AM a work in progress.
”Valley Gold Show” Debor’ah w/Broadway’s ‘Levensky Smith’
We hope you thoroughly enjoyed this interview Gumbumpers…. Let us know what you thought about ‘Levensky Smith’ and the glimpse he gave @Tash1216 of his life and career.
Do that by posting a comment in that comment section!! Peace….. Holllerrrrrrrrrrrr Players! 🙂
– Gumbumping Lady!