For Grammy award winning singer and songwriter Shaffer Chimere Smith Jr., better know as Ne-Yo, 2010 was a big year: his fourth album Libra Scale, which he described as a venture into unknown waters, was relased and he saw the birth of his daughter. 2011 looks to be no different.
In his own words, Smith said he believes in “expansion and growth and trying new things,” which is one reason why many will see him on the big screen again in the movie “Battle: LA.”
“If you try something out and find out that you’re pretty good at it, keep going. Acting is just another form of self-expression,” said Smith.
While Smith said that he is still a novice in the acting business, “Battle: LA” isn’t his first acting credit. Smith starred in the movie “Stomp the Yard” and also had a recent appearance as a smooth hit man in the television series “CSI: NY.”
Smith’s acting resume is short with no leading roles, but “Battle: LA” shows Smith in a different light. He said he pushed his acting ability to a level that he found somewhat tough but, in the end, felt confident about his performance.
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman, “Battle: LA,” a science-fiction movie about alien invasion and humanity’s fight against it, features Smith as a U.S. Marine named Kevin Harris. Naturally, the movie involves plenty of CGI action.
“It was a little difficult with the whole CGI thing,” said Smith. “I’m still very much a novice actor, so for me to act like I’m terrified of something that’s not even there, it was a little difficult for me, but with Jonathan’s help and with the other seasoned actors, I pulled it off.”
“Battle: LA” also stars Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez and Ramon Rodriguez, all of whom portray U.S. Marines.
In order to prepare for the role as a marine, Smith said that he underwent real boot camp to experience the mentality and rigor necessary to portray one.
“The people who put that movie together had all the preparation ready for us,” Smith said. “We trained with actual marines for a good three weeks. They basically trained us like we were real life marines and as if we were really at boot camps trying to become marines.”
Smith said the vigorous training, the early mornings, and the three to six mile runs were worth it.
“It was worth it because, at the end of the day, when you see the film, we look like actually marines and that was their goal: to make sure that when the movie came out, a seasoned marine could go see this and go ‘ok, they know what they’re doing,'” Smith said.
“Battle: LA” is already in theaters. Smith said his acting doesn’t slow down his gift of songwriting and his love for music.
“I have not abandoned music nor do I plan to at all,” Smith said. “Music runs through my veins. Acting though is fun and I have a respect for it. It’s just an interesting hobby for me right now, just something I’m trying.”
Working on his fifth album, Smith said while he does not quite yet know what the direction will be for his new project, he does know that it will be return to his regular form of music.
“I know one thing for certain: this album will be a little less complicated. There’s no complicated story to follow. I’m going to make music to make people feel stuff,” Smith said. “That’s my goal for this album. I’m going to write songs to make you remember old boyfriends, or make you love the one that you’re with even more.”
While Libra Scale, his fourth album, was centered on a story Smith wrote, he said he was proud of the many accomplishments he made by directing his music videos and changing his lyrical style.
With Grammy wins and nominations and Libra Scale coming in at number nine on the US Billboard 200 chart with more than 100,000 copies sold in its first week, Smith will indeed need to learn how to balance both.
Smith’s blooming career as an actor isn’t stopping with “Battle: LA” but with the production of the movie “Red Tails” that is set to hit the big screen later this year. Smith will again star as a man in uniform.
“As far as my music, I will never stop doing music until the world decides that they don’t want to hear me anymore,” Smith said. “In which case, you’ll see me in a whole lot more movies. But as of right now, I’m going to try and balance out both.”