Playwright, pageant winner and public speaker Shaquita Smith models a bright future for women everywhere as she prepares to win the Miss Georgia 2014 Contest.
Whether she is acting on the stage or screen, writing her own productions, speaking publicly or modeling, AIU AABA graduate Shaquita Smith showcases so much more than her beauty. She’s showing the world, especially the young women for whom she is a role model, what confidence, determination and hard work can do.
Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Shaquita had a painful childhood. The victim of abuse and domestic violence, Shaquita escaped her troubled home to live with her grandmother at the age of 11. Shaquita often says in interviews and in her own social media that her grandmother was the one person in her life who motivated her and who encouraged her to succeed.
Her experience with abuse also inspired Shaquita to reach out to abused children and families by dedicating her bid for the Miss Georgia crown to eliminating domestic violence. “I am representing a voice that has never been heard. So many young people are afraid to be whoever they want to be due to trials and tribulations in their pasts. You can be whatever you want to be. I am representing those little girls who were molested and feel that their life is gone. I am representing little girls who are fighting to speak. I am representing young people who wish they could be the next president or Miss USA or an actress. I am simply representing our generation for the future. To birth motivation, encouragement and inspiration in a young person’s mind is success for me. My past doesn’t define me; my future does.”
Shaquita began defining her future as early as high school. That’s when she found an outlet for her pain through acting. From that moment on, Shaquita embraced all aspects of stage production, from writing and casting to acting and producing her own plays. She became president of her high school theatre club and won numerous acting awards. These successes paved the way for her to win a scholarship in Theatre Arts to Troy State University in Alabama.
But in 2012 Shaquita was ready to spread her wings and get her career off the ground, which she couldn’t do at a traditional college. The young college student came to Atlanta and transferred to American Intercontinental University’s School of Business. “[AIU] Online was very convenient for me. I could be in L.A, Washington or even across the country but still had time to manage my work. I realized that I wanted to learn more about the business [of theatre] and the financial aspect of being successful in it.”
When it comes to staying on track at AIU, Shaquita says, “Trying to stay patient and consistent was something I had to overcome. Directing while doing homework was challenging for me. I overcame it by setting time aside for what was important. When I was on set some days I would have my computer right next to me.”
Currently, Shaquita splits her time between getting ready for the Miss Georgia Pageant, working in the finance industry, teaching acting, directing plays and doing appearances as the reigning Miss Buckhead. She also continues to forward her platform by speaking out against domestic violence and child abuse everywhere she can: at public events, meetings and church services. She has directed and produced several theatre productions that also help to spread awareness. In the future, Shaquita hopes to stop domestic violence not only through her testimony, but by founding her own non-profit organization called “I Remember.”
So what does the future hold? Win or lose, Shaquita Smith will be returning to AIU to complete her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship, “Yes, I am coming back to AIU to continue my education. I believe that if you want to set an example for other young ladies, you must promote education and excel in it to the best of your ability.”
This January, Shaquita also begins shooting a new feature film entitled Global Network, which will be released in November 2014. “I am the lead actress in this action-thriller. The film is surrounded by martial arts and combat. No heels and make up for me. I will be preparing for that role until we start shooting in January.”
When we asked Shaquita what her winning strategy is for getting it all done she said, “My strategy is simply having faith. I can’t do anything without the love of God. [But] when it comes to getting anything I want to accomplish, I write down all my goals and plans. I put goal dates and when I would like to accomplish those goals. I work toward the goals until they are completed. This particular strategy works every time for me. I don’t like to procrastinate.”
Shaquita says that this quote by Mary Manin Morrissey keeps her motivated for success, “Don’t wait for something big to occur. Start where you are, with what you have, and that will always lead you into something greater.”