#IGotCast: Raven Smith

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Photo Source: Matt Simpkins Photography

Amid the stirring, dream-soaked avenues of New York City, where the bright lights of Broadway beckon and film sets hum with anticipation, Raven Smith has carved out a place for herself as a working actor.

Smith's diverse acting credits are a testament to her versatility, perseverance, and passion for the craft. Having been cast through Backstage as a featured background role in the NBC drama series Manifest, for leading and supporting roles in two short films, and as host of two Lowe’s pet–care-focused how-to videos, Smith, who also has numerous theater and voiceover credits, has demonstrated her acting abilities across various mediums. 

These projects highlight not only her talent but the power of a platform like Backstage to connect actors with opportunities that can transform their careers.

Growing a hobby into a creative career

Smith’s journey to success started with a simple love for acting and grew into a desire to connect with audiences through an art form. 

Disappearing into a role and offering an audience the chance to escape from real life even for just a short time is what keeps her driven, why she continues to pursue every performance, no matter how big or small, with her whole heart.

A smiling woman with a motivational quote about pursing your dreams by Raven Smith

"After a few years of acting as a hobby, I realized there was nothing else I wanted to do for a living,” she said. “Being able to connect with an audience, whether it’s through a screen or on a stage, is one of the most amazing experiences.

“Art is a universal language that can bring people from all walks of life together and to play even a small role in doing so makes this career worth it."

Using Backstage for visibility and growth

For those new to Backstage or seeking to jumpstart or even renew their dive into the entertainment industry, Smith’s counsel is simple. "My biggest advice for newcomers to Backstage: Build up your profile! No job is too small to add, and no training is too little to mention." 

Smith’s continued success is a direct result of her proactive approach to using Backstage not just as a tool for finding jobs but as a platform for showcasing her talent and attracting the attention of creators and casting directors.

I’ve booked jobs from directors and companies finding my page on a random search. Before they even contacted me, they had several headshots, most of my résumé, and sample clips of my work to look through,” she said. “Your profile should make everyone want to see more of you!”

Text on a black background offering advice for newcomers to backstage, emphasizing the importance of building a detailed profile.

Smith keeps returning to Backstage for the opportunities she finds nowhere else and the tools that help keep the momentum of her career going. 

“I love using Backstage because there are so many interesting projects I could never find on my own,” she said. “The amount of notices uploaded every day gives you plenty to submit for and it’s such an easy website to navigate, especially when it comes to submitting and reaching out to creative teams.”

Smith’s keys to success

Smith's commitment to her craft is end-to-end—using tools like Backstage that help get her noticed, being ready for an audition, seeking out the advice of experts, and beyond. She emphasizes the importance of motivation, preparation, research, and building strong relationships within the industry every chance she gets.

“To prepare for an audition, I do as much research as I can. Sometimes, you get a bunch of sides to work with; other times, not so much. Whatever the case, studying the breakdown of the role and what the character says and does can give you exactly what you need to play them,” she explained. “And having a good reader and set-up (for self tapes) can elevate your performance even more!”

When it comes to making an impression and making a connection, no detail is too small. From "thank you" emails to creative teams to networking with fellow actors, Smith understands that success in the entertainment industry is as much about the relationships you build and the effort you make as it is about talent.

Staying in contact with people in the industry can open doors to so many opportunities and relationships,” she stressed. “On every job you book, you should exchange contact info with your fellow actors and try to make friends; sure, you never know who someone knows, but a support system made up of other actors comes in handy.”

A portrait of a smiling woman accompanying a testimonial about the benefits of using Backstage for finding unique projects and numerous audition opportunities.

Living and working in New York City, Smith is well aware of the challenges and opportunities that come with being in one of the world's premier entertainment hubs. Her straight-forward advice for finding success in such a competitive market is simple. 

"There’s always a mix of stage and screen jobs available here. In this busy, competitive area, it’s important to just keep trying,” she said. “Keep submitting for jobs and build up your résumé. Get involved with other artists in the area, create your own work and show it off! Whether it’s a short stage reading or a short film, there’s an audience for everyone in NYC—find yours and take them on a journey. Keep them wanting more.”

Keeping the faith

Perhaps the most significant lesson Smith has learned on her acting journey is one of resilience and faith in the process. "Opportunities meant for you will find you," she reflected. This belief, coupled with her dedication and the support of platforms like Backstage, has seen her through moments of doubt and led to unexpected opportunities and connections.

A smiling woman prepares to bathe a happy dog at a homemade outdoor dog wash station, demonstrating a fun and practical DIY project from Lowe's.Smith offers tools and tips in a DIY dog wash station video. Photo credit: Lowe’s Home Improvement 

Smith's story is not just one of personal achievement; it's a blueprint for aspiring actors everywhere. It underscores the importance of persistence, the value of community, and the role of platforms like Backstage in bridging the gap between talent and opportunity. Smith's success is a reminder that with passion, perseverance, and the right tools, being part of what comes to life in front of stage lights and on film sets is within reach for anyone willing to chase their dreams.

“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far is that opportunities meant for you will find you,” said explained. “I have had so many moments in my career, so far, that I didn't see coming—auditions I submitted months prior leading to jobs, networking at a small event leading to connections with some incredible people.” 

“Half the work is just putting yourself out there and continuing to pursue this career even when things feel stagnant. If you don’t give up on your dream, your dream won’t give up on you, because what’s yours will never pass you by!”