Although Dean Smith is a beloved soap star today, he considers every occasion that comes his way, whether big or small, as a highlight to be celebrated with family and friends.
In 2017, this 29-year-old actor joined the set of Southeast, and also entered the hearts of viewers. Today, people recognize him as that soap opera’s Wade.
Dean is soon back on the stage, which he considers his first love, in his one-man play, Hello, this is Bettie, to see. Bettie is a character that originated in the make-up room of Southeast had, and with this piece, from Dean’s own pen, he fills Bettie’s stage shoes properly.
“People know Bettie because of social media, and you always see what she does and who she is, but never why she does what she does,” Dean explained to RNews.
“With this play, we get to know Bettie behind closed doors, and we find out who she is when she’s not on social media.”
He remembers the day when he grabbed a piece of jewelry in the make-up room with his whole tongue in his jaw to create this funny character. It has been quite a few years now that he started entertaining the make-up artists with the antics of Bettie.
This character found her place on social media when Dean started making one-minute videos of her. Numerous fans of Southeast only knew Dean in his soap capacity, but with Bettie they could also experience his razor-sharp sense of humor.
Still, Dean believes that humor actually comes with depth and isn’t just superficial jokes; a principle that is showcased in his one-man play.
“People meet another part of her. She is a comical character, and people do laugh at her, but there are also moments that make the audience look for their tissues.”
“It’s a slice of lifepeople in the audience can relate to what Bettie is going through.”
Dean admits that it is difficult to single out comedy or drama as a favourite, and that he enjoys challenging characters, whether funny or dramatic.
When he thinks about the almost seven years that he from Southeast part, he knows he learned a lot not only about the technical aspects of acting, but also about himself.
Before he at Southeast joined, he did primarily theater work, and had no experience performing in front of more than one camera. In a soap opera, several cameras are used at all times, the scenes are shot quickly one after the other and the actors must be ready to shoot several different scenes every day.
The nature of soap opera taught Dean to find new sources of inspiration.
“If you play the same character for so long, you can easily go crazy. It forced me to find ways to still stay creatively stimulated. This led to the creation of new challenges, good for pulling you out of your own comfort zone.”
This is one of the big reasons why Dean came up with Bettie.
The soap also taught him that the stories being told are much bigger than individual actors. He also knows that there is a huge responsibility associated with deeper storylines that reflect some viewers’ realities.
“You don’t just tell a story, you represent someone’s story out there. You must know this, you have a responsibility towards your viewers.”
Dean studied drama at Stellenbosch University and obtained his honors degree in 2015. After a year of theater work, he got the role Southeast knocked loose
However, the theater is where he discovered his love for drama, and he still considers it the apple of his acting eye today.
He was already part of a professional theater play at the age of 16, Vaselineand knew even then that a career in the entertainment industry beckoned for him.
“I was very lucky in that sense. I knew from early on where my life and career was headed.”
However, he recalls today that at that stage of his life he was looking for a role model who had walked a path with acting. In his home town of Malmesbury, however, there was no such person.
“I didn’t really have a frame of reference at the time. My parents were very supportive, but I just had to find my own way.”
Today, he makes himself happy when young people from his hometown tell him that it is in his footsteps that they want to follow.
“One would think that some things get old, but they don’t. Every dear occasion, big and small, is celebrated with my family. They are always the first people to know when I’m going to do something new, when I get a new opportunity.”
And while he sees the bigger picture of his career, he believes in taking it one step at a time and trusting the process. His biggest life lesson is that you don’t climb a 50-storey building if you see the whole building. He considers creating smaller goals to finally reach the big goal as his winning recipe.
“If you would have told me a few years ago that I would write a stage play, I wouldn’t have believed you, and here we are today!”
- Dean Smith’s Hello, this is Bettie can be seen on August 2, 3 and 4 at Die Boer Theater in Durbanville. Buy your tickets here.