Meet 28 year old published model, Marcus James Smith who also is an educator, coach, deaf community merger and pop culture critic.
Due to his traumatic birth experience, Marcus at the age of 2 years old his parents grew concerned with his language delay and cognitive abilities, after a updated hearing test he was diagnosed as deaf with moderate to mild hearing loss in his right hear ranging to severe sensorineural hearing loss. This was just the beginning for Marcus and he then received his first hearing aid and began to learn sign language.
Marcus is now a Paraprofessional and on the pathway to being a teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing students in the Baltimore City Public School System.
Marcus is actively involved in the community mentoring deaf and hard of hearing youths and coaching baseball for BUBA, a non -profit baseball clinic designed to give next level coaching to the inner city youths who desire to play baseball.
Check out my exclusive interview with Marcus below:
Hey Marcus! Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
Hey what’s up! I first want to thank you for reaching out and allowing me to share who I am with you and your readers. It’s been a long time coming and I’m thankful for this opportunity. My name is Marcus James Smith. Born and raised on the west side of Baltimore Maryland. I am an educator in the Baltimore public school system and I love it! I work with the deaf and hard of hearing students with English and also interpret and assist them in their various other classes as well.
Talk me through an average day in the life of you?
Since Covid my days have been well adjusted but, after the intitual down time I believe many of us had due to Covid, I’ve found a routine that keeps me busy and inspired. On a typical day I wake up around 8-9am eat breakfast and hit the gym at least by 11am. I’m in the gym or working out at least 3 times a week even pre-covid. Depending on the day I may have a baseball game or a BUBA workout downtown in Baltimore. Working with the youth practicing and developing their baseball skills. I’m a big researcher as well. Whether that’s scrolling online for new photoshoot ideas or keeping up with the latest news stories from all perspectives. I also work part time as a CMT (Certified Medical Technician). When school is out at a deaf centered group home. My days are very active and all about supporting and helping others even in the smallest ways.
What institution(s) did you attend and what did you study?
I attended BCCC for general studies and Gallaudet for Sociology.
How does it make you feel that there is only one University in America designated for the deaf and hard of hearing?
Gallaudet University is a unique school. The school isn’t very big compared to other universities but it’s one of its kind. Other universities like RIT in NY have a strong deaf community and base throughout the school but nothing compares to Gallaudet. Gallaudet resembles a community college in terms of attendees. Everyone knows each other and it has a rich culture in terms of a collective body of individuals understanding the life of a deaf or hard of hearing person. It feels great to be able to have the experience of what you could call “THE HARVARD” for deaf education. This is a direct representation of the best of the best. There are a lot of issues within deaf education. Having quality education and even access to learning ASL. (American Sign Language) Which may be surprising but there is a stigma to look down on ASL as not equal to spoken English. So internally in I feel educational institutions push creating content and material in written or spoken as opposed ASL. So being at a University that prioritized education through ASL it was awesome to see highly intellectual people and discussion in ASL. Which I even as a hard of hearing person had not seen much of through grade school. The school and culture expanded my mind and taught me how to express myself better in ASL and how I wanted to live and navigate in the world as a hard of hearing man.
How were you discovered and how did you end up also falling in love with modelling, why?
I actually was suggested to model by a model mogul in DC by the name of Harvey Star Washington. I was working in DC as a bartender/ server and he was one of the customers. We spoke and he suggested I model. We exchanged numbers and later I reached out to him but surprisingly he didn’t return my phone calls. Maybe a year later he was hosting a model call and I wasn’t doing anything particularly exciting at the time. I took this opportunity to get into something new and I guess I always thought I could model and act. Just never knew how or attempted to really get into it. After completing my first fashion show and many encouraging words. I realized I actually can do this for real! I loved the potential of it. Where it could lead and I just wanted to build from what I thought came pretty natural to me while walking on the runway. I love the networking aspect of the industry and I learned that it’s not really the modeling that’s most important, how you look, etc etc it’s what you can sell and what’s your story. I definitely like sales and I definitely have a story to tell. So it’s just a perfect combination.
What was your first audition process like?
My first audition was very much like a baseball tryout. Growing up doing baseball showcases and trying out for travel teams it’s a level of scrutiny I was actually used to. Being put on the spot and having to show what I can do is something I quickly realized I had to do or I was going to be told to go home. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing but you have to know within yourself your worth and value before going into a model call or anything like that. I say this because my first audition let’s just say there were some choices of words you could easily make an argument as to verbal abuse. I’ve seen a few women cry actually. It was rigid and organized but high demands were put on the models and there was great tutelage happening but you must be also open to constructive criticism. It was exciting but I looked around and asked people who they were, how long they had been modeling, and I gathered that they thought I had skin in the game. I was a noob. So as eye opening as that was I watched those who did well, did my research and did my best. The lines were crazy long and the audition room wasn’t very big. It wasn’t the most comfortable either. A lot of standing and I joked and said this isn’t anything I’ve been standing in church for 2-3 hours my whole life. That’s how It felt! Along with the technique of walking it was a mental grind as well. Can you endure, execute and produce? Keep in mind there are a lot of beautiful people there. Big egos and individuals some people wouldn’t want to interact with but you have to stay positive and focus and that’s what I did.
How did you get the name “The signing Model”?
I had been looking for a tag line for a while, It’s weird because I was sort of avoiding what made me special for a long time. I know ASL (American Sign Language) and I model. It seems like a no brainer. I then worked with an artist and got a logo produced and when I really walked into the vision it was kind of baffling why I didn’t think of this sooner. I just felt like I didn’t want to reach for the low hanging fruit. But You can’t deny what makes you unique. You can’t fear what people will think. You gotta walk into your purpose.
Tell me more about your YouTube channel “SmoothView”. When did you start the channel and what’s the main focus?
I’m super excited about my new YouTube channel! It’s going to be focused around ASL, Fitness, Politics and Modeling. I’m going to be signing too! It’s going to be so unique because there isn’t much content about those things from the deaf and hard of hearing perspective. I want to bridge the gap between the deaf and hearing world. We can all learn from each other, discussing hard hitting topics and or just talking about the best face wash to use. All this dialogue happening in ASL. People who don’t know ASL can easily pick up on the language and those who are deaf can have a space to discuss things I don’t particularly see happening on a deep level within the deaf community.
That’s kind of a unique channel name, what made you choose that name?
Well…….. My favorite word is ‘Smooth” I don’t know exactly why it just rolls off nice when I say it. I like to do things smoothly. I don’t like rough things, if I can do something the right way without any hiccups and it’s done smooth sailing then that’s always the goal. Now I know that’s not always the case, but just like Obama he talked about hard topics but with grace and he was a smooth brotha lol. So I call it SmoothView because I know topic will come up that are tough but I want to express an view that may be tough but clearly and gracefully. So yea SmoothView.
And what made you decide to become a YouTuber?
I’m done holding back. The time is now to share my gifts and maybe open the eyes of people to some things. Youtube is going to be a continuation of that start.
What camera/gears do you always use in the production of your videos?
As of now I’m using my iPhone and iMovie and a caption app called Caption Me. It’s not the most fancy but as of now it’s the content I believe that’s bringing in my supporters.In due time editing and visual quality is going to get better and I’m excited for this journey.
What editing software do you use and how long does it take you to edit your videos considering the fact that you subtitle them?
The app is called Caption me. It takes me a good 30 minutes to an hour to caption my videos.
Tell me more about your love for vlogging/teaching and how you use it to satisfy your life long dream of pressing your passion in helping people and especially the youths?
I love teaching/ mentoring. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of people in and outside of family that shaped who I am. I find that a huge factor in my success in spite of all the challenges I’ve faced in life. I want to use my Vlogging to share my thoughts to bring awareness to the deaf culture, faith and create a space that encourages people and gives them practical ways to overcome the things we all go through.
As a model, what are your 5 Dos and Don’t?
- Come early, the earlier the better once all the people come that’s when the attitudes flairs up and confusion follows. Come on time do your walk and set your tone. Then you can leave without to much hassle.
- Know yourself, don’t take people’s opinions too seriously.
- Bring a comp card or something you can leave with the casting director.
- Do your research, if you can find the designer. Get an idea of the look they are looking for. The style of walk they and their brand. Familiarize yourself if possible if their social media.
- Be there because you want to, if you’re doing it because another model will be there or you want to be seen. You will burn out. You must want to be a vibrant person. Interact with people and like the environment the comes with being a model.
- Don’t obsess over joining an agency. I personally think going the independent route when first starting out is the best way to go. Create content you like and allow yourself to set when you want to work.
- Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with. You’re safety is ultimate. Never let a opportunity make you feel like you have to risk it all or do a photoshoot you’re not comfortable with.
- Don’t spend crazy amounts of money on Photoshoots. Of course you have spend to make money. Those things include travel, photographers, make up and things that complete the shoot. The idea is to make money as a model. Seek opportunities to shoot with brands and network in a way you can get photos for your work and even better get the photos and get paid. If you are to spend money, spend money on a camera and on a establish photographers or photographers who you want to support who is up and coming.
- Do not leak photos on your social media. I know you’re excited and you want to share with everyone but wait until the product is complete.
- Don’t get caught not tagging the designer or photographer. It’s a great insult including editing the work of the photographer. Don’t do this. You want to foster a good working relationship and this is one way to do it. Yes
Do you think diagnosed with deaf with moderate to mild hearing loss, get enough speech therapy, support from society especially considering the high rate of mental health issues in the United States?
I will say I was fortunate that my parents fought me to have a lot of services such as my personal speech therapist and for the public schools I was in to provide adequate support for my development. With that said generally at a mainstream school the service is there but if you’re not going to give the best or the specific service that student needs while not emphasizing ASL the language a young deaf or hard of hearing student should be learning in my humble opinion in conjunction with speech therapy, according to their ability then I would say as a whole services are not given adequately which produces many students mainly. Speaking about deaf and hard of hearing students who go to mainstream school who have a mixture of spoken or written comprehension along with some signing ability at sub par sufficiency. Emphasis has to be put on one in conjunction with the other according to that student ability and culturally identity they choose. So as far as mental health, imagine sort of being in limbo. Not really fitting in a group. Not able to relate or communicate effectively to family and peers in either language form. We need parents teachers and students to work together to ensure a strong foundation. That bodes well for students mental health.
How easy is it for one to learn ASL (Sign Language) and where or what places will you recommend for someone to go learn it?
I’m bias, I think it’s relatively easy. I’ve been taught ASL ever since I was 2 years old. With that said I will say if you immerse yourself into the culture and get around some deaf people and practice. I believe a person can learn it in less than 6 months I’ve seen it. At Gallaudet there have been deaf people who joined who knew no sign language and months later they are a fluent and decent singer. The key is to immerse yourself.
Talking about fitness, considering all gyms were closed due to COVID-19, but now opening what ways were you still workout?
During Covid I workout consist of walking, running and abs workout and trying not to pig out due to boredom or worry. I don’t really like home workouts so instead I would hit baseballs off the tee or play catch with friends. Trying practical things that get you moving such as jump rope, agility work and a old fashion race to stay a fit and active. I’m super happy the gyms are open. I’ve been safe but I was right back in there lifting weights and getting that define cut I like. Remember wear a mask and wash your hands.
You are now a Paraprofessional and on the pathway to being a teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing students in the Baltimore City Public School System, how does that make you feel?
It feels great because it’s something I feel my life has groomed me for. Growing up seeing my parents advocate for me and now knowing what I had wasn’t the norm. Couple that with being a hard of hearing student who sort of was in a hard place. I remember one IEP meeting I had and I remember distinctly the case handler saying I’m like not hearing enough but not deaf enough. That ambiguous label I know after going to Gallaudet and meeting more a more deaf people it’s actually a experience that’s not as known or talked about as people think. So as a para working with students who are like me deaf and hard hearing in a mainstream environment who are trying to find their way, to navigate and understand how they want to live their life. Do they want to rely on their hearing aids, or ASL or both or none at all. I’ve seen students ditch ASL and Hearing aids because they look at it as a negative. They don’t want to be seen as a person with a disability. So I want to be a good example as I teach. I want to support them and encourage them that their identity is who they choose to be. Don’t box yourself and feel restricted to only signing if you can speak and don’t push away your natural language in shame of it not being perceived as equal to spoken English. Claim who you are. Walk in it! It’s empowering and life will become easier the sooner you accept yourself.
For someone trying to eat healthy during this lockdown, what meal plans will you recommend?
Fish is a go to for me! Rice and steamed veggies. My favorite is carrots. Please for to my YouTube SmoothView and check out my workout videos meal plans are listed in the description box.
How do you balance your personal and professional life?
I haven’t found it difficult to separate my personal life from my professional life. The key is to decompress when you feel like your social capital is low. When you feel spiritually drained and when you aren’t motivated off your own personally desire. When you recognize these things. It’s time to take a step back and go to the basic. Live as a human being not a model or entertainer. When I feel like it’s not worth my inner peace I’m not going to the casting call or any events. My peace is most important to me.
How would you describe the modelling industry in the United States, when it comes to encouraging new faces?
I feel they are very welcoming. This is definitely an industry focusing on the newest or youngest new face. I’ve been modeling for 3 years and to stay relevant is definitely based on your hunger and creativity especially after your new face momentum dies down.
What do you consider the most common stereotype about being deaf?
One of the most common stereotype is because you can talk, that means you aren’t deaf. It depends on the person background and the type of deafness they have. Some deaf people have speech therapy and grow or grow up with a family who speaks apposed to a deaf family. There is a concept within the deaf community called Big D/ Little D. This dynamic can be used to describe an individual culturally. A person can be fully deaf but little d if they grew up in hearing spaces and never learned or embraced ASL. Same with someone who may be hard of hearing and is culturally immersed within the deaf community etc. It also can be used to understand an individual hearing levels.
What aspect surprised you the most once you started as a model?
I was surprised that many models have everyday working jobs and have great causes they want to advance. I had the preconceived notion that most models were full time models and were super snobby. I’ve met so many down to earth people and I actually could relate to the grind of working hard to get recognized.
Which brands, clients, photographers, YouTubers, models, etc, have you worked with?
I’ve worked with several great brands and models, designers worth mentioning! Different Regards is a Baltimore Native clothing company that has shown me great love and gave me great opportunities to be a reoccurring model their brand. Kenny Kas a celebrity fashion designers that I was blessed to wear his dapper suits. Definitely one of my favorites. Elieballeh was a NYFW designer I walked for which was just pure fire because not only was it NYFW the clothing just fit my style. Smooth and elegant. Another designer by the name of Shaka King, DC native designer who connected with me and I was published in a online magazine which was a huge step in really solidifying for me inwardly that I was making the right moves and networking with the correct people. I can’t forget Jennifer Edward-Gharty. We connected and she selected me to grace a beautiful wedding themed shoot that was also published. I’m really proud of that shoot. Even when I look back at it I gotta ask myself when I actually get married how do I top these photos lol. I’ve worked with a great handful of great photographers. I must shoutout The Photochase. He’s a visionary and every time we shoot I feel strong and comfortable. He’s also a really good guy as well. Jermaine Gibbs is a Baltimore based photographer who is super professional and has top notch equipment. I definitely want to work with him again.
What do you consider your biggest professional success so far?
NYFW hands down was my biggest success. On my first attempt I was able to walk for two separate designers. In the mist of the crazy casting call and all the build up to walk in a official NYFW show. It was fulfilling and even more validation I can and am progressing nicely. It’s all about applying pressure and not stopping. The photos were great and I can’t wait till Covid is over to be able to go again!
Who do you want to work with that you haven’t yet?
To many to really mentions but a few is Blackmenswear which is a movement on IG that shoots dapper suits. I’m actually will attending DC Flash Mob in August so keep a look out for that! Also Miguel Wilson_collection. I’ve seen his work and he’s based in DC, Miami and ATL. He’s the real deal and His suits are typical worn by pro athletes. A few Models I would love to work with is Joy_Jewell, Adut_tem and in some Nyle DiMarco. These are models I see and they represent hard work and their brand is inspirational. Lastly the IG handle Vogueeko! Shoot if I could get a shoot with them that would be huge. I love the concepts and the color schemes. It’s pure, sexy and smooth 🙂
What has been your biggest challenge?
Knowing when to invest, you must pay for something’s but you want the business of modeling to work for you not it work you. It’s just juggling and knowing which opportunity is worth the time and even money getting involved. So far I feel I’ve make my time worth while and those few times I felt like shoot I could if lived without going to that, I learned what to look for and understand who are serious about modeling.
Tell us two things people don’t know about you?
- People don’t know that my better ear is my left ear.
- My childhood dream was to be a professional major league pitcher.
As an active influencer on social media. Do you think its important to be online and if so why?
I think I have value being online. I strive to be my true authentic self. I have a unique background and I want to use that to bridge the gap between the deaf and hearing world. I use to be somewhat low key about my thoughts and my life but I think the time is now to shake up some things and put out great content.
You are based in Baltimore, Maryland. How is that working out for you?
I love Baltimore. I’m born and raised and in spite of all the negative things that are said and perceived about my hometown, I actually think it’s actually underrated to be honest. Maryland is really a nice balance of everything. As far as work and life goes. I’ll be honest I tend to go to DC to get my Modeling gigs and have fun. I think DC is a bit most my speed. But I love Baltimore and it’s always home.
What will you say are your must-visit travel destinations?
The aquarium! Jimmy Sea Food, Rye Bar in Fells point and Orioles park!
How would you describe your style?
I’m a athlete at heart, so I like casual athletic clothes. With that said casual and comfortable is what you’ll see me in mostly. Texture is key which is a sign of a well made product. I love to dress in a suit and as I’ve gotten older I’ve been more comfortable with going out with a sports jacket and some nice jeans topped of with some Chelsea boots or Sports shoes. Simple sophisticated, comfortable and most importantly versatile.
What style appeals to you the most?
Blackmenstyle IG is like my goal and what I strive for. Casual and sophisticated.
Name your 5 must-have accessories/essentials?
Bracelets Light necklace A nice wallet I have metal minimalist wallet that allows me to store my most important cards without carrying around the he bulky traditional wallet.Hoodie/jacket A nice jacket depending on the weather Confidence! Whatever you wear you have to feel strong and amazing while wearing it.
What are your favourite fashion trends?
This may be surprising but I like the come back of the turtlenecks. A nice turtleneck With a jack it’s simple shows my athletic frame well and comfortable and warm. Chelsea Boots! You can’t really go wrong. A black pair or cream pair. You’re bound to look fresh. Lastly Cardigans I’ve noticed these have been more and more popular. They have some that can be worn for all season to.
What is your favourite dish?
Mac and Cheese with Crab Meat inside hands down! The cool part about it is I can make it!
What songs are currently on your music playlist?
So I listen to I would say very unique music. I know all the major artist and songs mostly But on my own time I’m listening to YouTube Chill playlist, Beatstramental playlist. I like bass, chill melodic sounds. I don’t need much words. I’m awful at remembering song lyrics away.
Apart from being a model, teacher, mentor and YouTuber, what other projects are you currently working on?
I’m working on online Harvard leadership class, also online life Coach certification. These courses are self paced and can be accredited at the end of completion. I’m also working on 2 books. One book about my life and a fiction book that I would love to make into a movie.
Seeing you’re doing your dreams, what advice can you give others to pursue their dreams?
Know Thy Self You must come to a realization of you are and who you want to be. When and if you’re secure then you can truly navigate the next step which I would come natural to you since you won’t be in your own head with doubts which causes all great ideas to fail or cease to even get started. So the biggest advice is to know yourself.
Any specific plans for the future?
I want to grow into a brand that uplifts and motivates people. Share my testimony, create dope content and get people to engage in dialogue that’s going to be conductive to make it our world a better place.
Any final words?
Thank you always remember Life Is Precious and always keep moving forward
Where can we follow you online and on social media?