During college years and beyond, Patty Smithey has devoted much of her time traveling the globe, and helping kids as an educator.
Earlier this year, though, the Land O’ Lakes resident decided to devote more of her leisure time tapping into her artistic side with acting – a lifelong passion.
“I realized recently that I needed to do something that really, truly made me happy,” Smithey explained. “I need to help other people, but it’s OK to help yourself, too.”
The college admissions recruiter made her debut theater performance, as an adult, in June, in Cabaret. And, she just finished starring as the lead role Ariel, in The New Tampa Players’ production of “The Little Mermaid.”
While she just got back into acting this year, her fascination with the craft dates back to her early childhood.
Smithey recalls getting bit by the acting bug when she was just 3 years old.
The Tampa native said she and her younger sister would put on their own performances at home.
These homemade productions often involved acting, dancing and singing.
Smithey described herself as being a shy kid, but said acting provided an outlet for her to comfortably express herself.
“I just really love musical theater,” she said. “It’s always been in the back of my mind burning.”
That passion helped her break out of her shell as she got older, eventually joining the drama club while attending Steinbrenner High School, in Lutz.
The experience granted her the opportunity to venture outside the school auditorium with her group and perform statewide.
She did consider acting as a possible career path, but said her mother encouraged her to pursue other avenues.
Smithey attended Florida State University where she received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in just four years.
“I majored in international affairs, which was an amazing experience,” Smithey stated. “I got to study abroad in Panama, Prague, Croatia – the most beautiful places.”
She credits her travels in helping her to develop a greater appreciation for daily life, and a broader understanding of other people.
“One thing I learned throughout my educational experience, that’s consistent, is about people and human nature,” Smithey added.
Her newly found connection to others compelled her to focus her career on academics and to inspire others in their educational endeavors.
After school, she moved to New York, where she worked as a college recruiter before returning to the Sunshine State.
Back in Florida, Smithey continued a role in academics, but this time catering to a much younger demographic.
At Spring Hill’s Classical Preparatory School, she taught reading, writing, mathematics and science to fourth-graders.
Currently, she’s an admissions recruiter at the Land O’ Lakes branch of Rasmussen College.
She enjoys her work, but she also has felt a tug to return to the stage.
So, instead of thinking about it, she told herself: “Why don’t I just get out there and do it, even if it’s not professional.”
She then took to Facebook to see what local theater productions were available.
Off the heels of her Cabaret performance, the actress didn’t hesitate in auditioning for “The Little Mermaid” musical.
So, once she landed the role, she began sharing her time between work and rehearsals for the production, which just wrapped up at the University Area Cultural Development Center in Tampa.
Playing in the lead role was an honor, and gratifying, too, Smithey said.
“It came [as] a complete shock to me. It was like ‘Wow, these people have faith in me,’” she said.
Even as the experience rekindles her love for acting, the teacher within Smithey can’t help but see her experience as an opportunity teach youths a lesson.
She said it gives her a chance to tell them: “There’s always going to be obstacles, but if you put the work in, it really pays off.”
Published August 07, 2019