“Making it” is hard for anyone, no matter which walk of life you’re from. Becoming a successful person at any level is a challenge. Whether you are from Compton, Canada or Calcutta; reaching your goals isn’t always easy and takes hard work. For some people, this end goal is becoming a CEO, lawyer, doctor, engineer, rapper, actor or getting any other well known top tier job – but for others, it’s simply making rent payments or getting out of a bad neighbourhood. For Dwayne Smith that “dream” was multifaceted.
Dwayne ‘Stacks’ Smith knows what it’s like to hustle.”My father taught me how to hustle. You’ve gotta take one dollar and make two, it’s the only way to survive” said Stacks. He grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn, which anyone will tell you, is not the most prosperous neighbourhood in America – it’s actually the complete opposite. Filled with crime, poverty and a serious lack of opportunity, making it out of that 100 block radius isn’t an easy task. Stacks, however, using advice from his father, was up to the challenge.
“I’ve seen a lot of crazy things man. Shoot outs, people getting shot right beside me and whatever else you could think of.. I’ve seen it out here“. Not only was this a reality for Stacks but something he was involved with. “I was on the streets man, hustling, protecting my block, holding down the neighbourhood, basically doing what I needed to do to survive out there” he added. Stacks may have grown up in Brooklyn’s street life but always had a focus and desire to work in the film industry. Inspired by the likes of Jerry Lewis, Will Smith, Tyrese, Richard Pryor and Jackie Gleason, Stacks was determined to “do film behind and in front of the camera“.
Balancing street life and his dreams to make it in the film industry was harder than you can probably imagine. “Unfortunately, to move forward, I had to cut ties with people who weren’t moving in a positive directions. I mean, sure, we had good times and the streets made me the hustler I am now, but I’ve worked to hard to go back to that lifestyle” he said. After doing some in front of the camera work and little behind the scenes work Stacks eventually got his first major look as an extras casting director for Jerry LaMothe’s critically acclaimed independent movie Blackout. His natural eye for talent and practical knowledge of authentic neighbourhood scenery is what made him, and the movie, so successful. From there, Stacks career behind the camera took off.
He has gained considerable experience not only as a remarkably strategic extras casting director but also as a producer, director and assistant director. “It hasn’t been easy though, it has been a bumpy ride” claimed Stacks. “It has taken me a long time to figure out the ins and outs of the industry, make connections and find work everyday” he added. It’s clear that his success in the film industry is primarily due to his hustler beginnings. Even though what he is hustling may be different, that same fire and drive for prosperity remains the same. His hustle now is Stack718TV.
Stack718TV is his own media group that focuses on his own brand; something he has tirelessly built over the past 10 years. The group essentially focuses on interviewing young up and coming directors, producers, designers and anyone trying to make a name for themselves. “I always knew I had an eye for talent and I want to show the world how much talent these youngs kids have, at the same type break stereotypes in the industry” said Stacks about his goals for the media group. On top of that, Stacks currently wrapped up Jamal Hill movie Brotherly Love in which he was assistant director. The movie was released on April 24th and has been getting raved reviews. He has also been filming independent web series Crime Heights where he has not only been assistant director but also producer.
“My plan is to build a studio in Brooklyn so that I can build realistic sets for the movies I work on” said Stacks on his plans for the future. “I want to produce talent as well. I want to make people stars and highlight all the talent we have in Brooklyn. Alot of people, especially in Brooklyn, are scared to try out the film industry because of how difficult it may be, but if you hustle hard, you can make it” he added. He also encourages the kids from his neighbourhood to get away from the street life and into something prosperous. “I’m going to try and pull these kids away from the streets and violence because I was there myself – I know what can happen and I know that it’s not the right path“.
All in all, Stacks continues to improve himself, his brand and the people he surrounds himself with. “I continue to be a facilitator and a channel to make things happen. My connections and talents don’t have any limits so with hard work, I can only go up form here” he says. His hardknock upbringings and plethora of raw life experience may have been strenuous at the time but has ended up making him a more successful person as a whole. Before we know it, Stacks will be going down in history as one of the greatest to do it from the good ‘ol BK.