Jerrold Smith II is a Los Angeles multi-hyphenate who may be a familiar face to you. Best known for his most recent on-screen credits in HBO Max’s original series, “Sweet Life: Los Angeles,” and Netflix’s outbreak competition series, “Floor is Lava,” his work doesn’t stop just stop there.
Smith also had a highly successful career playing basketball for UCLA, and now has had the opportunity to be featured in major brand campaigns for companies like Nike, Adidas, Feashion Nova, and many more.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Sentinel, Jerrold Smith discussed some special projects that he’s working on as well as how it feels to be making his mark in the entertainment industry right now.
Los Angeles Sentinel: You’re coming up in the entertainment industry with appearances on HBO Max’s “Sweet Life: Los Angeles” and a Netflix show. How does it feel to be making your mark?
Jerrold Smith: It’s excited. I feel like I have a pretty good resume behind me with two very popular shows that have impacted the industry in very different ways. And it feels really good for me to know that I’m on the right track with some of the things I want to do in my life and career.
LAS: What made you want to on HBO Max’s “Sweet Life?” Why was it important to get this version of L.A.’s finest on screen?
JS: I feel like the show was made for me, man, to be completely honest with you. My friend, Kofi [Jones], who is also on the show, was my roommate in college, and he kind of manifested this for us. We’d say, ‘Man, somebody should put us on TV.’ Like, we’re all doing really cool stuff, and it only got better and more exciting once we graduated college and started making extra money.
But this was an opportunity that, I think, was manifested for us. We all have really interesting stories to tell. We have some really big dreams and goals, and we not only can inspire each other through this opportunity, but everyone that’s watching. We hope that our stories are impactful for those that are looking to do similar things.
LAS: Do you feel like “Sweet Life” challenges the regular reality TV out, right now?
JS: Yea, absolutely. I feel like it goes against the norm of what we’re used to seeing. For one, it’s a group of young Black individuals from LA, which we haven’t seen since “Baldwin Hills.” And quite frankly, I think it’s not as confrontation heavy. I’m not saying there isn’t drama and confrontation, but it’s not as heavy as some of the other reality TV shows that we’re used to seeing.
We’re used to seeing reality TV that focuses on the negative aspects of Black life, as opposed to in our show, we focus more on us chasing our dreams while trying to navigate friendships and relationships all at once. And then, there aren’t many reality shows showing people in their mid-20s, early-30s doing things [in their career]. The opportunity to televise this has been amazing.
LAS: What have been some of the benefits of being on reality TV?
JS: The exposure. I have two really cool shows under my belt, now, and people are seeing more so more opportunities have started coming my way. I’m excited to do more screen stuff, and work with more brands. The visibility has been really important for me.
LAS: Have there been any challenges?
JS: Navigating everything that’s seen on the show, while on the camera, and trying to control those emotions. You’re having real conversations with your friends—real arguments, disagreements, emotional moments, sharing things that you probably never expected to be sharing with the world via HBO. But at the same time, it’s a blessing because the opportunity itself to do this in our hometown with people I’ve known my whole life…my actual friends. That’s the biggest blessing.
LAS: With your challenges—have you just had to learn controlling your emotions along the way?
JS: Yeah, you learn to be vulnerable. Season 1 was a lot different than Season 2 in how a lot of us show more of ourselves on screen for viewers to see because that’s the only way that you guys are going to hopefully understand who we are. Not everyone has the opportunity to see us intimately, but through 30-minute episodes, so we have to find ways to make sure that we’re coming across as authentically as possible to the audience. It can take some adjusting.
LAS: You also have a podcast, “Basketball Adjacent.” Can you tell me about that?
JS: Yea, I’ve spent majority of my life playing basketball. I’ve been playing since I was two-years- old, played in high school, and then was fortunate enough to play in college at UCLA. When I graduated, I realized this wasn’t how I wanted to spend the rest of my life, but I didn’t know how to pivot. So, “Basketball Adjacent” is about, not just my journey, but for my listeners and viewers, the opportunity to see and get exposed to everything that’s out there in related to pertaining to and adjacent to basketball.
LAS: How long has the show been out?
JS: About a year-and-a-half, now. I’ve recorded a full season, and have some new episodes that’ll be coming out at the end of this year.
LAS: How do you find your balance with everything you’re doing.
JS: I haven’t exactly figured that out yet. I kind of take each day by day, making sure that I’m not only enjoying this moment to the fullest, but that I’m not leaving any stone unturned, no opportunity missed. Because there’s so much life to live with only a little time, and I feel like I’m doing myself a disservice if I limit myself. But, my fiancée keeps me balanced. She reminds me to slow down and just enjoy my time with who I’m with.
LAS: That’s awesome. My last question is what’s next for you?
JS: My fiancée and I are saving up for a house. That’s a big focus for me. I’m hoping and praying we do more “Sweet Life” because this foundation has given me great opportunities that I get to do with my friends. So, I want 30 seasons of that to be next! And then I just want to establish myself as its own brand. I want people to identify with me and the things I bring on screen.
You can keep up to date with Jerrold Smith on Instagram @jerroldhtims.