One day Tory Devon Smith saw an open submission for roles on Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming Netflix series, “The Get Down.” While he did not land the lead role he auditioned for, Smith made an impression –- and nabbed a recurring role on the drama.
The young, gay actor has had quite the year. Between auditioning and joining the cast of “The Get Down,” he was a series regular on BET comedy “Zoe After Ever.” With these two roles under his belt, this is one actor to keep an eye on.
“The Get Down” is set in New York City during the 1970’s and centers on the youth of the South Bronx as they discover and strive for their musical dreams. With a cast that includes veteran actors, like Giancarlo Esposito, and rising stars, like Justice Smith and Shameik Moore, “The Get Down” is overflowing with talent.
Smith plays Little Wolf, who the actor described as a gangster and the “outrageous funny sidekick” of Yahya Abdul-Mateen’s character Cadillac. Playing Cadillac’s right hand man meant the two actors spent a lot of time together. “I got to learn a lot from this Yale grad who was breaking through in this role,” Smith added.
Smith said “The Get Down” was an exciting and overall positive experience: Learning from the different people on set, working with various directors and becoming a “bi-coastal actor” were items Smith could check off his acting bucket list.
“I [also] got inspiration from the people on set," Smith added. "Some of security guards told me they were 'Little Wolf' back in the day. To learn from their experiences during the time was exciting,” he added.
Another entry point was music. “The Get Down” has a specific sound that grounds the series in the time and world it lives in. Luckily for Smith he loved the tunes of the time.
“As a kid I would watch VH1 a lot. I was introduced [to] the music of the 70s, 80s and 90s," he said. "Oddly enough I was born in the 80's, but I see myself as a 70's baby musically."
He also enjoyed getting to work with Lillas White as well as Billy Porter, who shared “his experience in Hollywood and on Broadway” with the young actor.
Working Luhrmann and the cast of “The Get Down” was not the first time Smith has worked with a great talent –- “Zoe Ever After” starred Brandy Norwood. He called the experience “sort of a dream come true that I never thought would come to life.”
“I was a fan of her work for so long - one of the few black artists of that time breaking the mold, crossing color lines. So many people grew up on her music. I watched every episode of Moesha,” he added.
Smith’s Little Wolf will appear in the first half of “The Get Down’s” first season and will have a larger presence in the second. Meanwhile, he hopes to take advantage of the amount of stories being told in the medium. “I find the most intriguing and interesting characters are written in television.” Smith told NBC OUT.
“I would love to do ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,’ then ‘Transparent,’ jump to ‘House of Cards,' ‘Empire,’ 'Power,'” he added, “I want to do as much as I can.”
Smith also said Broadway is on his bucket list. “I would love to [do it],” he added.
Viewers can watch Tory Devon Smith in “The Get Down” starting Friday, August 12, on Netflix.