Someone once said that life is a mixture of hurt and cheer, well, Rickey Smiley has had more than his fill of both. The comedian, who is always working overtime has managed to keep his audiences enthralled via his stand-up shows, prank phone calls, memoir (Stand by Your Truth, And Then Run for Your Life!), the big screen, the airwaves, and television. Whew! Rickey’s comedy exemplifies how observant and clever he is to notice the things that are skewed in this world and then make them hilarious. Suffice it to say, his mental fitness is astounding!
As the host of his Atlanta-based nationally syndicated radio program, The Rickey Smiley Morning Show, a featured columnist on the Fox-produced celeb gossip TV show, Dish Nation, and star of his own TVOne reality show, Rickey Smiley For Real, one has to wonder how Rickey has time to juggle it all and still remain so grounded, and family-focused.
The Birmingham, Alabama native, who turned 50-years-old only recently, was raised primarily by his grandparents, whom he loved to no end. Rickey’s grandmother, Ada, is deceased and his grandfather, Ernest, passed away only a few days ago. Rickey wrote on social media about the passing of his beloved grandfather, “I was introduced to go on stage in New Orleans at 8:55 p.m., same time my grandfather passed last night. I guess he didn’t wanna distract me lol!”
Rickey, who considers himself a God-fearing man, also happens to adore kids. He has two biological children and two adopted daughters. He has also opened his door to numerous young family members, put them through college and gave them financial help. He has nurtured all of the children in his life by offering sagacious advice, along with tough love which is evident on his highly-rated reality show. When Rickey appeared on the Wendy Williams Show, he discussed his no-nonsense parenting style. “I’m a tough parent. Nobody’s entitled… Entitlement is the worst characteristic one can develop. I believe in old-school discipline and old-school home training because it didn’t hurt me”, he adds. “Either you do that, or you go to their funeral.”
Rickey is a true s-u-r-v-i-v-o-r! He has not been stopped by life’s curveballs–poverty, the murder of his dad, a debilitating custody battle, and being shot with a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun (and btw, he is still sporting the bullet!).
Despite all that Rickey has endured, he still makes humanitarianism a priority. He established The Rickey Smiley Foundation, a charitable initiative started to help children, teens, and seniors in need. Rickey is not looking for pats on the back or praise; he is merely trying to live his best life by doing the right things and helping to bring about positive changes.
Rickey chatted with 50BOLD about the funny and not so funny sides of life. Suffice it to say; the scuttlebutt about the man is true, he does have a genuine heart of gold.
50BOLD: Good Morning Mr. Broderick Smiley. How are you?
RICKEY: It’s Rickey! Broderick is reserved for my mom and my woman (lol).
50BOLD: Okay, forgive me.
RICKEY: How you doing Bro?
50BOLD: I’m doing great! You’re going to have to help me get through this interview because I’m a fan, and know you are hilarious, so please…(lol). You had a birthday recently and you finally turned 50. How does being in the 50 club feel?
RICKEY: Oh man, let me tell you something. Man, it’s the greatest feeling ever because you make your circle super small. And you don’t let nobody bother your stuff. You set up boundaries, you’re no nonsense. It is great being in the “I can say whatever I need to say club!” And then on top of this, man, I just feel great. I ain’t on no medicine. I’m supposed to take medicine because I’m crazy but I don’t take it. But other than this man, I’m happy. God is good. I now understand life completely and I’m ready to enjoy this next 50 ride.
50BOLD: Well alright! You hail from Birmingham, Alabama and were raised by your mom and your grandparents.
RICKEY: Yes sir.
50BOLD: Is it true that you actually began working at age 9 cutting lawns and trimming shrubs for just $5 a week?
RICKEY: Yes, but now I don’t get paid, and will still go out outside and do yard work! I take yard work very seriously. Landscaping is the absolute real deal. It keeps you healthy. The job relaxes you. Landscaping really does help to keep your mind occupied.
50BOLD: I agree. Did landscaping help to develop your solid work ethic?
RICKEY: Well, I was raised by a grandfather who was a military man, so when I got up, I knew I had to work. And that’s what I just loved the most and appreciated the most about my granddad. My granddad just really, really instilled a work ethic of getting up and going to work. He didn’t believe in you know, laying up and not doing anything. My granddaddy believed in being productive. And he just passed away at age 92-years-old. It was a blessing to still have a grandfather at age at 50. He sure taught us a lot.
50BOLD: You represent him and your family’s core values very well. Now your grandmother, Miss Ada, is she still living or did she pass?
RICKEY: She’s been gone about 13 years now. My grandma Ada was hilarious. She stayed throwing shade (lol). She was funny, and meant what she said, but that was my girl there.
50BOLD: I guess you received most of your humor from Miss Ada?
RICKEY: Oh yeah, my sense of humor came from all of my grandparents. They were all friends and lived across the street from each other. My grandparents were funny. They were always putting on a show. When they all got together they’d be performing. I sure do get a lot of my humor from my grandparents. My grandfather was still funny at age 92!
50BOLD: I read your book which is phenomenal by the way! I must say, you are one of the hardest working men in show business today. I compare you to James Brown and Steve Harvey who I found out is actually one of your mentors. You truly represent our community in a huge way! I also watch your reality show, Rickey Smiley for Real, and it is refreshing to see how you are using old school tactics to teach your children how to lead exemplary lives. Everyone should be tuning into your show! Younger people should especially take notes while viewing your show as so many of them are lost these days.
RICKEY: Yeah, you know kids are so desensitized these days. They rather support the chaos and drama that reality shows like Love and Hip Hop bring to the table where cursing and fighting are the focus. However, as far as this show right here, the network and advertisers are trying to bring a younger viewing audience to Rickey Smiley for Real. I have a good show, a positive show, one you can learn a lot from and I take pride in it. I refuse to do drama on the show. I just want to ensure that the show is also fun, funny and offers teachable moments, these elements are so important. And yeah, it’s a great show that adults can watch with their own kids, and grandkids. And older people really love the show because they just can appreciate the way I discipline, the structure I put in place and the boundaries I set. Yeah, the teachable moments are so important.
50BOLD: I was disciplined until I got it right. And luckily for me, I didn’t go too far left. Discipline gave me a better understanding of life, and to realize that nothing is going to be given to me. Your humility is just admirable, how do you manage to hold on to it especially in the entertainment business? We appreciate the fact that you are so humble.
RICKEY: And I really appreciate your words. You know, there’s nothing to be arrogant about because all the stuff I do, ain’t nothing but two or three jobs, so I am no different from anybody else. One thing I don’t like, and I see a lot of at times is how people act around celebrities. Everybody’s okay until a celeb walks into the room and then people get to acting crazy while the celebrity is just trying to be like a regular person.
Another thing I can’t stand is people who don’t have any manners or home training. People who are pretentious, have agendas and who don’t respect others; they are always willing to step over boundaries for the things that they seek. I clash with people who are disrespectful because I don’t have a problem correcting them when they violate my space. When I say, “No,” I mean, “No!” And I don’t answer to no, and don’t explain my no. I’m not nasty to people who violate my space, I just tell them, “No,” in a nice way. And I have a hard time with people who feel a sense of entitlement when you’ve already told them, “NO!”
50BOLD: And I so agree with your response. There is certainly a time and a place for everything and sometimes, you just want to do YOU without the fanfare! I hear you’re an accomplished pianist.
RICKEY: Yeah, I still play but I don’t do so in a church setting anymore. But if I show up somewhere and somebody’s playing, or if I attended a funeral and they didn’t have a musician, I might pitch in. I was at a church one time and I just quietly got up, went over to the piano and began accompanying the pastor and soloist while they were singing. If you’re a musician and you’re at a church service and a musician is needed, just go up there and go to church. It’s the right thing to do! And offering your musical services has absolutely nothing to do with me trying to get attention! How can a musician sit and watch someone sing a solo at a homegoing service and not try to accompany them to make the situation better? I try to do this for families who suffered a loss. It’s just the right thing to do.
I still do my community service. I was down at a Fort Lauderdale church and they had me accompany their male choir. So I just went up there and started playing the piano; I knew all of their songs and had a real good time praising and calling on the Lord. Yeah, I love those old traditional gospels.
50BOLD: Well alright, wonderful, I love those old gospels too. You’ve helped so many people, are involved in so many projects and tackle everything so well. We certainly need more Rickey Smiley’s running around!
RICKEY: Well, you know, I just hope that I’ve changed a lot of lives for the better. So many young men have walked up to me to say that I’ve made them better fathers. They also tell me that I’ve given them motivation and brought them closer to God. I’m just giving people basic stuff. I just allow God to use me to help others and that’s just it.
50BOLD: I found out that you were shot in the side and survived. Can you expand on the story? What caused the shooting, was anyone else hurt, or was it a robbery?
RICKEY: Yeah it was a robbery. The incident occurred before cell phones. I had to stop at a pay phone to make a call. A guy shot me to let another male victim know that he was serious about the robbery! I almost… I could have died but somebody found me lying on the street a block away from the shooting and called 911. After being shot, I was taken to a nearby hospital, where I woke up in an ICU after a six-hour surgery. I opened my eyes just in time to watch the police chase OJ Simpson in his white Bronco and all while asking God to let me live…. The guy who shot me was apprehended and convicted on two counts of attempted murder. He did 25 years and when he got out of prison, he was killed four months later.
50BOLD: I was going to ask you if he was still in prison. He died four months after he was released from prison, WOW! Unbelievable!
RICKEY: Yeah, he was killed four months after he got out of prison. He was drag racing and hit a pole but you can read all about the details in my book; it will bring tears to your eyes.
50BOLD: We want to make sure we get your book’s title right for our readers, and so it’s Stand by Your Truth and Then Run Like Hell! and it is a great work, it really is!
RICKEY: Thank you because when you tell the truth a lot of people just can’t handle it. You know a lot of us have such terrible attitudes, and we don’t like being told the truth. I’m so glad you enjoyed the book.
50BOLD: I must say, you are Godly, and you’re prayerful. You’ve stated before publicly that you say your prayers every morning. You thank God for granting you another day. I pretty much follow suit in the mornings and evenings. I didn’t become prayerful, however, until I was maybe in my late 30s. Was this spirituality something you’ve felt since you were a child, or did it grow out of gratitude. Was your spirituality instilled in you by your grandparents?
RICKEY: I’ve been like this my whole life. I’ve been grateful my whole life. Even as a kid I would sit in church and just feel the presence of God and I was just a little kid. I’ve always been thankful, grateful and humble. And I always known that God is everything and I’ve realized this my entire life; this is just how I am.
50BOLD: I’m going to catch up to you spiritually, hopefully. Tell us a little bit about The Rickey Smiley Foundation.
RICKEY: The Rickey Smiley Foundation is all about community service. We work with the Salvation Army. We feed the homeless. We give away lots of toys around Christmas. We’ve offered hurricane relief services and just look to help people in need, this is the basic makeup of my foundation. We are all about simple community service and lending a hand where it is needed.
50BOLD: The females in our readership will probably want to know this; what type of lady are you looking for?
RICKEY: I’m Godly but I do need some company every now and then! I won’t have a problem if she comes to me wearing black stockings with an open toe 3-inch heel (lol).
50BOLD: What about 6 inches (lol)?
RICKEY: Oh yeah, all of that! I have a girlfriend and she’s 77! We’ve have four or five beds in the master bedroom. We go to bed at 6:30 pm. I get up to a nice hot breakfast before leaving to do my radio show. The last thing we watch before going to bed is Family Feud. And she’s just a hard praying woman. She makes really good cornbread and biscuits from scratch and she drives a Berwick!
50BOLD: (lol) I’ve listened to so many of your prank calls throughout the years and my favorite is the one made to a funeral home. It’s so good to laugh until you cry and I think this is what’s missing from the world. A little more laughter is what we need especially these days. Thank you for making us laugh.
RICKEY: Thank you so much for the compliment and for your support. I also want to thank everyone for watching Rickey Smiley for Real and Dish Nation. You all can also go to the RickeySmiley.com and RickeySmileyMorningShow.com sites to catch up with me.