Born on the Sea Islands of South Carolina, Franklin and his siblings joined their mother in the Fort Apache section of the South Bronx in 1953. A native Gullah speaker, Franklin says, “my dialect was so rich that I was put into classes with students who only spoke Spanish and the teacher spoke neither”.
Early on he met life long friends and was adopted into a Puerto Rican family (The Ojedas). In the South Bronx, he attended the same junior (P.S. 52) and high schools (Morris) as General Colin Powell. As a collegian at Hampton Institute in Virginia, Franklin excelled as a baseball player (he won a national batting championship) but more importantly, he found his grounding in academic life.
Now a professor emeritus of sociology, Franklin had been at Stockton University in New Jersey for over forty years. But he says, I avoided my secret, inner passion since my early teens, then 14 years ago cancer ran me down. I had an epiphany. I said yes! Franklin explains that “back in the day the ‘barb wires’ were more visible” and early on he chose baseball over acting; then academia and not baseball.
Dr. Smith made his stage debut (’01) in the role of ‘Troy Maxon’ in August Wilson’s Fences. Subsequently, he has focused on Big Screen, TV, Commercial, and Voice over endeavors. A noted storyteller and orator, Franklin says, “…the kids are grown, the dog is dead and now that I may, I choose acting.”