American Sports Personality and ESPN host Stephen A. Smith has been a fan of General Hospital for more than 40 years. In 2007, he jumped at the chance for a cameo on his favorite daytime drama but was disappointed when it didn’t include his favorite character, Sonny Corinthos. Years later, he was invited back in a scene opposite Maurice Benard and won over the actor and the executive producer, Frank Valentini, with the character of Brick. The rest is Port Charles history. In this week’s episode of Benard’s video podcast, State Of Mind, Smith sat down to talk with the actor.
Stephen A. Smith: Landing The Role Of A Lifetime
As a boy, Smith, who had four older sisters, watched GH every day while finishing his homework, and the mob boss was his favorite character. As a sports commentator and host, the sometime actor is no stranger to television but could hardly contain himself when he got the call.
He remembered the day of the shoot. “I did the first few scenes, and you were like, ‘You got it.’ Frank Valentini, the executive producer, came running down, ‘How much time do you have to do this? We want to make this a recurring role.’”
Smith explained how he maintained his cool in the midst of the pressure of daytime and working with his idol. “And I remembered why I was successful in the scene. I went back to the guy who watched General Hospital all of the time for the last 40 years. And I knew what this role with Sonny was supposed to be. That saved me.”
The outspoken anchor was able to contain his trepidation and nail the scene. “For me, it was a dream come true. Oooh, Sonny Corinthos, my man. I can’t wait. I can’t wait. I can’t wait. And then I got up there, and you were so generous. You were so kind.”
The character of Brick, the surveillance expert, has since been called upon many times to help Sonny, such as helping the mobster trace calls from Russia and leading to the discovery that Patient Six was Jason Morgan [played by Steve Burton], fixing the cell phone of Mike Corbin [played by Max Gail] whose Alzhiemer’s was worsening, to gather intel on Cyrus Renault [Jeff Kober], track down Julian Jerome [William deVry], and even helping a wounded Jason and Britt [Kelly Thiebaud] get to a safe house. The fans can’t get enough of the talented techie.
When Friends Become Family After Loss
Stephen A. Smith is also a New York Times bestselling author of Straight Shooter: A Memoir Of Second Chances and First Takes, a biography that covers everything from his struggle and sacrifice to become a TV and Radio success, growing up with a negligent father and a devoted and loving mother, the loss of his older brother, Basil, and how he struggled with depression after the loss of his mother to cancer in 2017.
The multi-talented actor found out that his book took the top spot a few days before his State Of Mind sitdown. “I am sitting here today as a Best Seller for the New York Times.” He was still trying to process the feat. “Everybody else is celebrating but me. I’ve got my sister, whom I love with all my heart. She is so wonderful. My bodyguard, my guy Juve, he’s like a brother to me. My sister, my brother, my lady, my family, my friends…everybody is celebrating! I am just relieved.”
Writing the book was an emotional rollercoaster ride. “I know what it took me to write that book. I didn’t have a ghostwriter. I wrote that book. I wrote every word. I did the voiceover. I am the one to put pen to paper and re-lived my mother’s death. Re-lived my mother’s life. The price that she had to pay because of the things my father did and did not do.
“The profound impact that it had on my family and my friends, because they were around me, not knowing what was going on in my head and in my heart and the load that I was carrying every single day.” He tried to hide the overwhelming emotions from the people who have become family to him, including Benard.
“So when I get to this point, Maurice Benard, you text me,” he explained. “Eric Braeden [Victor Newman, Young and the Restless] and my family. Everybody. I walked away last Wednesday when they announced that I had made the New York Times Best Selling List. And nobody saw me when I just walked away.”
Smith continued. “I walked away. Just went into my room and looked in the mirror, and allowed the tears to just run down my face. The reason why I did that was because I was named the New York Times Best Seller on my mother’s birthday. That is the day it happened.”
The friends and brothers in healing covered so much more in the episode. Twenty minutes alone was dedicated to sports, Smith’s forte and Benard’s joy, as the two discussed Boxing, Basketball, Football, celebrity interview highlights, inspirational athletes, and Super Bowl controversy. Find out more about the losses, gains, and triumphs in his life.
The SportsCenter commentator got deep and real about the grief that overcame him after his mother’s death, the anger he felt toward his father, and how friends and the love of his two daughters, Samantha and Nyla, saved him. In his typical no-nonsense delivery, Smith didn’t shy away from talking about current and relevant social issues such as Rihanna’s Super Bowl performance and Tyrene Nichols’s tragic death at the hands of Memphis police.
GH and Sports fans won’t want to miss a minute of the expanded interview on State Of Mind. Fans can follow Stephen A. Smith on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. To check out his memoir, click here. Follow Maurice Benard on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. To follow State Of Mind and subscribe, go to YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.