Born and raised in Chicago, Adam J. Smith began acting and public speaking in high school, during which time he became a State Champion and National Semi-Finalist in Original Oratory. He then attended Duke University, where he graduated magna cum laude with degrees in theater and economics. He spent his post-Duke years in New York City as an actor, performing Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway in various venues throughout the city, and internationally at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. While in NYC, he also studied at the Michael Howard Studios.
He left New York to pursue his MFA at the renowned theater program at University of California—San Diego/La Jolla Playhouse, where he worked and studied with some of the top teachers and directors in American Theatre. While serving as Supervising TA, he helped to reconfigure the undergraduate UCSD Public Speaking curriculum, and also taught Intro to Acting, for which he was honored by the Theatre Department upon graduation.
After UCSD, he moved to Los Angeles, where he has worked as an actor, director, writer and teacher. His film and television appearances include The Good Doctor, Jane the Virgin, The Orville, Taken 3, Scandal, 90210, Castle, Medium, Victorious, Chemistry, Without a Trace, Numb3rs, As the World Turns, along with roles in award-winning films and commercials. As a voiceover artist, he narrated the Discovery Channel series, Bounty Wars, has voiced multiple video games such as Grand Theft Auto V, and narrated an audio tour for SFMOMA. In 2006, he won an Emmy Award for starring in When Things Get Small, a wacky and educational look at the world of nanoscience.
As an award-winning theater artist, he’s performed in countless productions at Southern California’s most well-known venues, including the Pasadena Playhouse, South Coast Rep, The Walt Disney Concert Hall (alongside the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra), La Jolla Playhouse, Ojai Playwrights Conference, International City Theater, Boston Court and Antaeus Company (where he’s a Company Member), as well as its less conventional, but equally exciting venues such as The Huntington Gardens (with CalArts’ CNP), The Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Mountain View Mausoleum, and La Brea Tar Pits Museum (with Chalk Rep). Elsewhere, he’s performed at the Chautauqua Theater Company in upstate NY, as well as in numerous productions Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway.
As a teacher, prior to joining CalArts, he taught Acting and Public Speaking at UCSD, The Actor’s Instrument and Scene Study at The Acting Corps (in LA), Voice/Movement and Dialects at TVI (in LA). As a director, his production of Glint, a one-man adaptation of a David Foster Wallace short story, was named Best of the 2011 Hollywood Fringe Festival and was subsequently presented at The Actor’s Gang Theater in LA (as G.O.Ne). He has also directed for the Chalk Rep Flash Fests and Santa Monica Rep’s WAVE Fest, and assistant-directed Rafael Lopez-Barrantes on Barroco at CalArts. He was chosen as a participating director in the 2012 Directors Lab West summer program. In addition, he served as on-set dialect coach for Fox TV’s Splitsville and has coached LA theater productions of the acclaimed Circle of Will and Guided Consideration of a Lamentable Deed, as well as numerous CalArts productions. As a writer, his plays have been given readings and workshops at The Magic Theater (in San Francisco) and CUNY in NYC. In 2013, he served as an official judge for Drama in the prestigious PEN CENTER USA Literary Awards.