Ministry is not solely built for the pulpit, it expands far beyond that. There are pastors, singers, ushers, and then of course, playwrights. Jermaine Smith, widely known as “Jay Everyday”, is an inspirational playwright from Brooklyn, N.Y. With over 50 shows, each drawing numerous souls to Christ, Jermaine is using his talents to spread the gospel. You certainly want to get familiar with Mr. Jay Everyday as he is quickly becoming a positive force in theatre, radio, media, and anything else he puts his mind to.
So Divine: Tell us, who is “Jay Everyday” and what is he all about?
Jermaine Smith: Jay Everyday is a young man who wants to help as many people as possible. That’s my mission. I want to go after the individuals who doesn’t see hope, who doesn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was that kid once. I was a young 7/8 year old kid who had dreams and visions, looking through the window guard. I always wondered at such an early age was that gonna keep me out. Does that keep crime out or does it keep me in? I had so many dreams. I was the child of a substance abuse user. I saw different men coming in and out and my mother doing what she had to do to supply her habit and had no knowledge of God. I had a praying grandmother who went to church, but I didn’t get that little glow to press on through. So I just want to help those individuals who are at the end of there rope and they don’t know that they could tie a knot in it and hold on.
So Divine: Tell us about your experience with God. How did you meet him?
Jermaine Smith: I met God through my mother turning her life over to God. My mother used crack/cocaine for 27 years. So I said if my mother could go up there with her drug addiction, all I’m addicted to is tattoos so I could go up there (laughs). But it took me some time because I sat in church for a year and a half and I faked it until I made it. I actually sat there and wore the form of godliness instead of really having it. I came in with the suit and the shoes and pointy toe and let in soak in and gradually grow. I didn’t grow up in the church, so it was a culture shock to me and all new. But it did explain why a lot of things happened to me. The experience was definitely brand new. It was different.
So Divine: What was the turning point where you decided to stop playing church?
Jermaine Smith: The turning point was when I realized I had to get the relationship right with my mother. I realized no relationship in this world was gonna work until I straighten this out with my mother. I said you know what, let me take God more serious, and then let me work on this relationship with my mother. And it was not easy. I won’t sit here and say it was easy because forgiveness is a hard thing. So it was very rough. And we’re still a work in progress.
So Divine: Let’s talk about you as a playwright. When did you discover your talent for writing?
Jermaine Smith: I discovered my talent for writing at the age of 8 or 9. I’ve been writing for a long time. I’ve been writing poems, songs, and just writing down my thoughts. I remember sitting in a particular church, and a gentleman walked up to me and said “God said to give you the lead role in my play.” And I’m sitting there like, “Well God didn’t tell me that” (Laughs). But upon reading the script I took the role, and I said this is something that I could write. So I wrote a TV pilot called “The Mailroom”, and I gave it to the pastor at the time and he said turn it into a play and lets put it on at the church. So I turned it into a play and got my cast ready. I then wrote four pages of what was really on my heart, which is my play “A Piece of Me”; which is based on giving forgiveness to my mother. I read the four page draft of A Piece of me to the cast, and 70 something pages of the Mailroom, and they said you know what, you have to finish this A Piece of Me. I wrote the rest in four days, and here we are talking about me being a playwright (chuckles).
So Divine: How many plays have you written to date?
Jermaine Smith: I’ve written maybe about six and a half plays, but I put out two full lengths, and two short. I’m currently working on one called “Love Don’t Hurt, People Do”.
So Divine: Where do you find concepts and inspiration for your plays?
Jermaine Smith: I find them in every day life. I find them in my relationships, my situations, friends. As you and I may sit around and have a discussion I may pick a piece of what’s going on in your life and put it into a character. I like to write reality based theatre.
So Divine: Do you ever worry about a certain topic being too heavy for the audience to handle?
Jermaine Smith: No, because I think everything needs to be brought to the light, and if its not gonna be brought to the light in theatre, it’s gonna be brought to the light either in a movie, or in a song. Kids are getting reality in their classrooms. Sometimes we just gotta go where we can go.
So Divine: Did you always know that this is what you wanted to do?
Jermaine Smith: No. (Laughs).
So Divine: What did you have in mind?
Jermaine Smith: I thought I’d be a basketball player. I played ball in high school and college. I was just a regular guy trying to make it happen. I still feel like I’m a regular guy, I’m just exercising the gift that God gave me. The things that I wanted to be, my public school teachers told me I couldn’t be. But that’s my motivation. I wanted to be on a radio station and they told me I couldn’t so I started my own. People told me I couldn’t be in magazines I wanted to be in so I’m starting my own.
So Divine: What made you decide to go in the direction of writing gospel plays in particular?
Jermaine Smith: Well, I more so wanted to write inspirational plays because I wanted to inspire. People are scared of the word “Gospel” for some reason.
So Divine: They are! It changes the atmosphere.
Jermaine Smith: Right! But you know what? I wanted to inspire people and let them realize that they could do anything that they put their mind to; and most of all, I want you to leave my plays differently than how you came. In 50 shows, 81 people turned their lives over to God.
So Divine: Wow! Well, naturally people might compare you to another famous gospel playwright. How do you feel about that, and what sets you apart from all the other playwrights?
Jermaine Smith: I feel honored to be compared to anybody, because people do not have to mention you in a sentence at all. I tell my actors and my son, who acts in my plays, that if anyone stops and tells you that you did a great job and they’re a stranger, that’s great, because they could’ve just went straight home. Family and friends could tell you all day that you did a good job. But a complete stranger? You’re doing something. What sets me apart? I just write reality based stuff that we go through everyday. So if you come to one of my plays, you might see yourself.
So Divine: How far do you want to take your writing? Do you want to stay local, do you want to go on Broadway, do you want to branch off into turning them into movies one day?
Jermaine Smith: Well I want to go where God takes me first and foremost. If God sees fit to have us on Broadway, then that’s where we’re going. I’m writing my play now as a movie, and I’m writing another play as a TV show. I don’t want to get ahead of myself. At the end of the day we all have our purpose and destiny and God’s gonna get it done before he says come home.
So Divine: You mentioned radio, you mentioned a magazine. You have all these different outlets. People are listening to you and they’re seeing you. What message are you trying to get across? Its like you’re becoming this mogul..
Jermaine Smith: Well, that my ultimate goal, to build a multi media company. I want to employ people. I’ve lived one way long enough; I want to try the other way. A lot of friends feel I’m gonna burn out. But when I was in the clubs, I had energy. Nothing is gonna come to you. You have to go out and get it.
So Divine: What can we expect from Jay in the next 3 years?
Jermaine Smith: In the next 3 years, I would love to be a successful business owner. But most of all I want to help people. My thing is, I might not get a mansion down here, but if I can get a mansion up top, I can work with that. I’m trying to get this benefit concert off the ground for HIV which affected my grandmother, sickle cell which affected my nephew, and breast cancer awareness which affected my aunt. And I know So Divine will be there supporting..
So Divine: Absolutely! Yes, we will. Thank you so much Jay!