Henderson native on the big screen

Sep. 18, 2013 @ 06:28 PM

Henderson native Josie Marie Smith is “Janie Charismanic.”

Smith is playing the title role in a recently completed movie about a singer/songwriter with issues.

Produced by Judith Studios, an independent film company, the movie features a lot of music as it documents the travails of Janie, who alienates everyone she knows and is forced to take a boring job in a finance office. There she meets Kevin, an ex-surfer, and their relationship becomes anything but boring.

The film gave Smith an opportunity to display several aspects of her talents.

“All of the actors do their own singing,” she said by telephone from New York, “and I did the vocal arrangements for the ballad ‘I Want to Own You’ and ‘Daddy I Want to Be Your Debutante.’”

Concert scenes were filmed at the Black Bear Saloon in South Norwalk, Conn., and at Toad’s Place in New Haven, Conn., which has hosted stars such as Muddy Waters, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan.

The film is currently being shown at film festivals. Smith said she is uncertain when it will appear in movie theaters.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I’m just hired to do the acting.”

Ila Duncan, who directed “Janie Charismanic,” said Smith was selected for the role because the producers were familiar with her work ethic.

“We knew she was easy to work with,” Duncan said. “She’s very professional, very reliable. She works really hard. She learns her lines.”

It will be some time, Duncan said, before it’s known whether and when the film will be released for showings in theaters around the country.

Meanwhile, Smith appears to have less down time between professional engagements than she did when she was getting established. For one thing, she is able to take time to relax.

“I just got back from a hiking trip in upstate New York,” she said.

But she is staying busy professionally, too. She is working with the New York Professional Actors Ensemble, where actors do readings of new works by aspiring playwrights.

“It helps them to hear their work,” she said.

It has benefits for the actors, as well, she said.

“It’s great for making contacts,” Smith said.

Beyond that, she has other projects in her sights.

“I’ve just been cast in a play with Obligatory Theatre Company called, ‘All the Usual Ways to Bruise an All Too Fragile Ego,’” she said. “I’ll be playing the role of Sally. After that, I’ll be doing a short film called, ‘People In Places.’”

Smith grew up in Henderson. She is remembered favorably by people who interacted with her on the local music and drama scene.

Cindy Edwards, former choral director at Northern Vance High School, described Smith as “a true talent.” Edwards said Smith was in her Northern Vance show choir.

“She was a leader,” Edwards said. “She had very clear ideas about the show choir. She was a big help.”

Dwight Pearce directed Smith in Henderson Rec Players productions. He remembers her as “very intelligent, very creative, easy to direct, a good dancer.”

JoEllen Nowell, who has performed in and directed numerous Henderson Rec Players productions, said Smith is very dedicated to the craft.

With the Henderson Rec Players, Smith had parts in a number of productions, including “Annie,” “Pal Joey” and “Peter Pan.”

“I was one of the Lost Boys,” she said in reference to that last production.

After graduating from Northern Vance High School, Smith attended Louisburg College and then transferred to East Carolina University, where she majored in musical theater.

She now lives and works in New York City. She has appeared in several movies, including “I Hate Tom Petty,” “Stealing Martin Lane,” “The Feudalists,” “Zombies Anonymous” and “Free to Go Home.” She also appeared in two episodes of the series, “Celebrity Ghost Stories.”

Her parents live in Henderson. Her father, Charley-John, is a long-time theater professor at Louisburg College. Her mother, Rita, taught English at Vance-Granville Community College prior to retirement.


Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.