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The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Arjay Smith: Local boy turned television star

As “Designated Survivor” continues to be a hit, the opportunity has opened the door for Arjay Smith, who takes great pride in and acknowledges that the series isn’t the typical American television show.

Arjay Smith
Smith posing for BELLO Magazine Photo credit:


“It’s advertising a new direction with the out with the old, in with the new scenario,” Smith stated, “The show is trying to give the idea of a new way of operating, especially when it comes to politics. Shows are still following the 20th century way of doing things.”

Smith also adds that since political shows aren’t really updated on today’s way of handling decisions, it’s very hard for the audience to relate. This is why they brought in a fresh perspective of a designated survivor – to make politics interestingly different by a man of little importance.

Smith knows all about doing something different. He has pursued a career in acting since he was a child.

He was brought up in Norwalk, California, regularly hanging out in Fullerton. But Smith knew he had a calling for something in life, as he always found joy in entertaining others.

Designated Survivor screenshot
Screenshot of actors Arjay Smith, Alex Quijano on the set of Designated Survivor Photo credit: Facebook


“I always found performing as my outlet for self-expression in life,” Smith said, “so then I thought of becoming an actor. I was very blessed to have full support from my mother who became my coach.”

Smith’s big breakout role came with the Nickelodeon hit “The Journey of Allen Strange” in 1997, which told the story of his character Allen, who played an alien trapped on Earth.

The actor later snagged the role of Brian Parks in “The Day After Tomorrow”, where he co-starred with Jake Gyllenhaal. Smith then played the character of Grant McQueen on “Sons of Anarchy”.

“I’m all about breaking stereotypes. That being my main goal by not being known as a black actor, but just as an actor” Smith said. “But with Hollywood, I get presented with characters like thugs and basketball players. To break this I take different roles of what is expected of me.”

Choosing scripts is never an easy task, but Smith knows that when he does choose something, he will be satisfied knowing he is being an example as an actor who won’t just take on any role. He strives to be someone different by opening doors for others who wish to break their own stereotype in Hollywood.

“The problem nowadays are that actors are fighting for success instead of fighting for material,” explains Smith. “What makes a great actor is pacing yourself and finding the best roles out there for you.”

Aside from acting, Smith uses his voice by helping charitable causes like Breast and Ovarian Cancer and The Kis Foundation which raises awareness for Sickle Cell Disease.

He also teamed up with congresswoman Grace Napolitano to bring awareness to mental health issues.

Smith’s handles his company Jeigh B. Records, which takes pride in bringing attention to up and coming directors, singers and producers.

The actor has advice for anyone struggling towards reaching their dreams. Smith explains that it’s necessary to keep trying and to overcome obstacles because it makes you stronger.

“Stick with your dreams. No dream is too big to accomplish. However big your dream is, just know that it’s achievable so relinquish doubt because that prevents you from pursuing your dreams.”

Don’t miss Smith in his show “Designated Survivor” on ABC every Wednesday at 10 p.m.

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