Born on the Sea Islands of South Carolina, Franklin Ojeda Smith and his siblings joined their mother in the ‘Fort Apache’ section of the South Bronx in 1954. 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. He is a professor of sociology and has been at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey for more than thirty years. But he says, “I avoided my secret, inner passion for over forty-five years, then 6 years ago cancer ran me down. I had an epiphany. I said yes! Franklin explains that “back in the day the ‘barb wire’ was more visible” and early on he chose baseball over acting; then academia and not baseball. Dr. Smith made his stage in the role of ‘Troy Maxon’ in August Wilson’s Fences (2001); and he subsequently, understudied the role of ‘Elmore’ in another Wilson play, King Hedley II, for the Philadelphia Theatre Company.
He has had principal roles in the Television dramas: Law & Order, Cold Case, The Wire and Hack. A busy Commercial actor, Franklin revered and considers his portrayals of Saint Ephrem and Saint Martin de Porres on the EWTN (Network) as milestones. His dramatic reading of Jim Bishop’s The Day Lincoln Died was the featured performance of the Emmy Winning New Jersey Television Reading Literacy Program. In the spring of 2005 he completed a challenging role in the film, My Brother, starring Vanessa L. Williams. And appears in the role of Les (Equipment Manager) in the Disney feature film Invincible, starring Mark Wahlberg.
A noted storyteller and orator, Franklin says, “…the kids are grown, the dog is dead and now that I may, I choose acting.”