Today we’d like to introduce you to Aaron Smalls.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Aaron. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Originally, I’m from St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. I went to the University of Central Florida in Orlando. I was 2.5 years into a mechanical engineering degree when I was introduced to the world of entertainment. I auditioned to work on a show for Nickelodeon. I started as a 19-year-old show assistant, shuffling around cartoon-sized props, whipping up cream pies, and engineering the perfect slime. Yeah…I was lucky enough to start with Nickelodeon. After hosting shows for Nickelodeon for a while, I was introduced to a DJ company that taught me how to DJ. Around the same time, another friend told me to check out the acting studio where he studied. Thus, creating what would be my entertainment tripod. At the time I was naïve to my path in life and had no idea what the universe had in store for me, but little did I know I was already betrothed to the entertainment world. I was destined to be a performer- a curiously talented one.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Choosing to be an entertainer is a struggle period. I don’t know how people expect you to know what you want to do with your life when you’re in college. That was probably the first struggle. I didn’t know what my “gift” was until I started hosting live shows and then everything came into focus. When someone put a mic in my hand and allowed me to perform for hundreds of people, that made my heart sing. But, there’s no legit path for hosting. There’s no degree you can earn in school. And, people don’t understand what hosting really is. Especially for live events. Learning how to get better or finding mentors or convincing people to hire you is a struggle.
Once I figured out my path, then it became a struggle to find consistency. I’ve been performing since 2005 and up until 2014, it was challenging. It’s still a struggle to this day, but I’ve put in the work to have some semblance of consistency. Rejection and consistency kind of go hand-in-hand. Not knowing when your next job will be, or when you’re getting paid next, or not booking the job can really scratch at the door to your self-esteem and well-being. That voice in your head starts telling you, “you’re not good enough” or some other negative bull. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve thought about getting a “real job”. Having the patience to stick with it and the strength to get back up after the K.O.’s is an ongoing struggle.
Rejection always hurts. Luckily, somewhere along the road, I learned that it, whatever “it” is, just wasn’t the right fit. I either have to fight for it or move on. I learned to let my struggles and rejection fuel me. Success happens when you get back up again and push forward.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m a skilled DJ and a gifted live event host. Who do you know that does both? And, does them both equally well? I don’t just talk on a mic or spin records. I prepare for an event by taking the time to understand the brand and asking the right questions. I create an emotional connection with the audience above and beyond client expectations. I make people think, “Where did he come from and can I have what he’s having?”
I can see what most can’t by looking at an event from multiple perspectives- the talent side, the producer side, and the technical side. I love creating energy and setting a tone beyond what people would think to request.
What sets me apart from others is that I understand that it’s not about me. I put the focus on the audience and make them feel seen and heard. Making smart decisions on who I partner with and working with companies that continue to challenge me and help me grow as an artist is vital. I’ve been lucky enough to partner with a company called Event Host Live, and to learn from mentors like Rubin Ervin and Marc Summers. I don’t mind passing off a gig to another talent if I’m booked or if a colleague is a better fit. Lastly, I’m flexible, reliable and just fun to be around.
I’m humbled by the fact that major brands, celebrities, and networks continue to trust me and book me for their projects. I’ve made a career not just as an entertainer, but as a host, a DJ, and as an actor. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve accomplished this level of success without a manager or PR team to this point, and I know that when my team does expand, we’re going to make a positively impactful impression on this world. Bigger the dream, bigger the team. And I have some big dreams. I’m honored that publications like VoyageLA want to share my story.
What were you like growing up?
I grew up on an island and I’m an only child, so I was pretty unique growing up. I’m originally from St. Thomas. It’s one of three United States Virgin Islands, along with St. John and St. Croix. You’ve probably been to one on a cruise. I almost exclusively played outside. I was extremely imaginative and creative. The “look at me be a ridiculous child” vibes were strong. When I wasn’t out in nature, I could be found watching Jim Carrey movies, namely Ace Ventura and subsequently mimicking him by talking out of my butt. My mom was definitely over it. I made up different characters. Put on shows. Built pillow forts with my cousin. I played an absurd amount of Scrabble with my grandma. The signs that I would be an entertainer were all there. I was, and am, independent, creative and fed off of entertaining people. When we moved to Florida, I asked my mom to put me in acting classes, but back then Google didn’t exist and she didn’t know how to go about it. To fill the void, I learned to play the saxophone, I played hockey [roller, not ice, it’s Florida], and soccer. And, as many of my childhood friends that are still my friends to this day will attest, I threw the most bomb birthday parties. [Except for my 7th birthday, that was a bust. But, that’s a whole other story.]
- Website: www.AaronSmalls.com
- Phone: 8138439710
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @TheAaronSmalls
- Facebook: @TheAaronSmalls
- Twitter: @TheAaronSmalls