Interview with Goodmen Cover Guy Riley Smith
Working with Riley was such an enjoyable experience! He was very down to earth and easy to talk too. I love how real and open he was during our conversation. He was humble and sincere about his views and feelings on what it’s really like to be in the entertainment industry. He’s got A LOT going for him--a music career, a new series coming out on FOX, and moving to Chicago! Riley DEFINITELY is one of the “Good Men.” Grab your cocktail and find out for yourselves!
For me, trusting your gut and intuition has always been the most significant and most important thing.
In my closet
Usually, it’s a Levis denim jacket. I have five of them in almost every color. I’m almost always wearing a Levis jacket. There’s also these Red Wing Boots which I have seven pairs of. They are from Red Wing, Minnesota which is in the midwest where I’m from. They are supposed to be work boots, but now they are hip and cool. I always have these on with a denim jacket (laughs).
Elvis Presley. I would drink whiskey, and we would eat fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches (laughs). I would ask him about life and everything about him.
If you spent a day in the life with me... we would play music.
I’m about to start working on a new tv show for FOX called Proven Innocent by the co-creator of Empire (Danny Strong) and written by David Elliot.
What is it about?
It’s about a group of lawyers who represent wrongfully convicted people. It’s kind of about the Innocence Project. I play a guy named Levi Scott. The show centers around Levi and Madeline Scott (Rachelle Lefevre) who plays my sister. We get falsely imprisoned for ten years for a murder that we didn’t commit. The show is really about how that affects people who finally get out of prison after being wrongfully accused. They never get out of that shadow. During the process of that, my sister starts a law firm to represent people like us--wrongfully convicted felons. It’s about trying to set the truth free.
Talk to me about the process of booking that role. Was it an audition? Was it an offer?
I had not auditioned for a very long time. I had been getting offers, but this one was for a network that I had not worked with in a while (FOX). I was told that I would have to go read for the director and producers. I was ecstatic because I loved the role and I knew that I was going to be right for it. I literally said to my manager, “I’m going to have to do it if I’m going to get it so I might as well do it now.” I went in and read, and I knew it went well. They called and said they wanted me but they had to get the sister first because she was the lead and I had to make sure I matched her. It took them a month to find Rachelle. In that month, I kept passing on other pilots, and I knew I just had to trust the process because this was the role I wanted. It was the first script I read, and I knew I just had to be patient and wait. I left L.A. during pilot season and went to Nashville and recorded seven new songs. I told my manager, “call me when they find the girl, and if I don’t match the girl, then I’m not going to do a pilot this year.” It was either this one or none. He called me on a Friday twelve days later and said, “get your ass on a plane back to L.A. they found the girl, and you look like her. You might have to screen test on Monday.” I flew back to L.A. immediately and then, sure enough, they called me the next day and offered me the job. They were like “how soon can you get on a plane to Chicago?” I just landed from Nashville, and I did my laundry, re-packed my bags, and flew to Chicago that night. It all worked out, and the show got picked up. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Everything lined up.
Who was the first person you called when you found out that you booked the role?
My mom is the first person I call every time.
Can you share a time in your life where you trusted your intuition? So we can encourage people to believe their own inner voice as it can lead you in the direction you are meant to go in.
For me, trusting your gut and intuition has always been the most significant and most important thing. My experience with Proven Innocent was the icing on the cake. By trusting your instincts, you’re making the right choices, and it all paid off. That would be the prime example. I was on a show called Life Sentence this past year, and they had not been renewed yet, but they had not been canceled either. They were up in the air, and something in my gut told me that I need to see what else is out there for me. I didn’t know where they were going with my character’s storyline. No one was really saying anything to me, but in my gut, I just felt something wasn’t right. Everyone on the show was like, “you’re crazy, they love you, and they are going to write for your character next season." Even my managers and agents said, “they just signed you to a big deal, why do you have these feelings?” After the very last episode, I went to the creator, and I said: “would you let me out of my contract?” They were very cool about it, and they didn’t have to be. I owe them a lot of gratitude for allowing me to trust my instincts. It ended in a very significant way for everyone. Everyone was very gracious. It ended perfectly for me (laughs) because I got the other show.
Another one would be--one time I was switching managers about twelve years ago. It felt like I met with every management firm in the city. I narrowed it down to two, and they were both great. One of them gave a razzle-dazzle-- “promised me the world” type of speech. The other company was very down to earth, honest and made no promises. I walked out of that meeting and looked at my agent and said: “that’s where I want to go.” She was like, “are you sure? The other place is offering the world. They gave such a good pitch.” It was almost too good, and something in my gut just tells me that I need to go to the place that is more honest. I went with them, and it was the best move I ever made. I’ve been with them for twelve years.
This is a challenging industry to be in. Was there ever a time you felt discouraged? How did you overcome that? What advice would you give to others based on your own experience?
Jacket: All Saints / Shirt: Lucky Brand / Jeans: All Saints / Boots: John Varvatos / Sunglasses: Les Specs / Blazer: Lucky Brand
I have had moments where I felt really down. It was interesting because I was going through an age change--I wasn’t playing a kid anymore. I was in between ages, and I had my own identity crisis. I was trying to figure out who I was and who I was going to become. Everybody in the industry was trying to figure out where I was going. I kept saying to people around me (my managers and agents) “I’m not doing anything different.” I just have to keep trusting the process and doing what got me this far--not trying to jump ship or change the game plan. I mean obviously, the only way you are going to get better is by accessing and tweaking and always molding yourself to be better. However, there is something to say about trusting your gut and the game plan. I feel that a lot of people in this industry that move to this city are chasing what they think they are supposed to be or how are they supposed to act all the time. They are constantly reinventing themselves, and they are just throwing darts trying to be whatever they think is the right thing. The first thing my manager--my very first manager-- told me when I moved to L.A. from Iowa was, “what separates you from everyone else is that you’re from Iowa. So don’t change and don’t become like everyone else. Stay unique and true to who you are.” I think that’s the best piece advice I ever got because I did listen. Here I am, to this day and still wearing my cowboy boots (laughs). I’m a blue-collar midwest guy, so there was no reason for me to be something I’m not to please other people.
Imagination is a preview of life coming attractions. What do you see yourself manifesting for yourself in the next six months to a year?
It’s funny because the name of my corporation is a Tabula Rasa Productions. I wanted something that meant fresh starts and new beginnings, and that’s precisely what tabula rasa means in Latin. I literally googled it, and that’s what came up. In the last three years--almost every year for me--I’ll get a show that will last for one season and then it will go away for one reason or another. Every reason is different, and then you have to start all over again. It’s like getting knocked down in a fight, but you just get back up and keep punching. This is the third year in a row that I’m getting on a show that has been picked up for thirteen episodes. Right now I’m trying to manifest and visualize this new beginning, a fresh start, original character, a new network and going back to Chicago which is around my home area. I grew up three hours from there, and I have a lot of friends and family in that area. I’m really manifesting it to last(laughs). I keep saying, “third time’s a charm”--this one is going to be longer than one year. I would really like to settle back down in the midwest doing what I love to do. I want to continue to grow as a man, become a better person--human being and that will come across in my work, and I just want to be happy.