There is only one student at Penn who can say his claim to fame is a watermelon video on Vine.
Originally from Montclair, N.J., Chaz Smith is a College sophomore majoring in Cinema Studies. Many recognize him from Vine, as he started making videos for the website during his senior year of high school. In the beginning of summer 2013, he made a “watermelon inside of a watermelon” Vine that went viral by the end of August.
Smith said that getting so much attention on Vine has been a great source of networking. He was able to meet other popular Viners like Simone Shepherd — who is known for her parodies of Beyonce — and Sam Takes Off, who has more than 950,000 followers, and plans to attend a Vine meet-up in New York next month.
Smith hopes to go into a career in video production. He recently completed work on a video about sexual assault prevention for the organization One Student. “I’ve learned how to be a better ally to survivors of sexual assault,” he said. “It’s been an extremely humbling experience. A lot of times we think we know things but we really don’t. Experience is the greatest teacher. That was a big lesson for me.”
He recently made a music video titled “Crying My Soul Out” with Wharton freshman and rapper Kayvon Asemani. Smith said of Asemani, “He’s a super cool dude. I can’t wait to see what he’s doing in the future.” They both enjoyed creating the plot of the video and filming the more intricate scenes, he said.
“Chaz epitomizes creativity at its finest,” Asemani said. “He’s a superstar, but he never wants you to feel that way about him. I’m lucky to have him as not only a business partner, but also a friend.”
Outside of video, Smith is involved in One in Four, an all-male sexual assault prevention and awareness group, whose goal is to teach as many people as possible how to be better allies for victims of sexual assault.
“[It’s important to] build confidence and knowledge of when to be able to speak up for something,” Smith said.
Smith is also a board member of the Black Student League, which is getting ready for a talent show next month. Smith stressed how important it is to be a part of the League, and encouraged interested students to reach out to him or others about it.
“Chaz Smith is the future, simply put,” said Wharton sophomore Amir Baiyina, who worked with Smith last year on a video and who is also a member of the Black Student League. “I am excited for all the great things that he will offer this world.”
Although Smith has recently taken a break from Vine, he hopes to rev up his presence once again, especially with the Vine meet-up in March. “I wanna make sure I’m just a little bit relevant again before I meet anybody,” he said.
When asked where he derives inspiration, Smith said, “Inspiration often comes spontaneously, but when I’m looking for it, I’m very faithful and I’ll pray. I’m very thankful to be doing what I’m doing. All glory goes to God.”
Smith is grateful for the opportunity to study what he loves at Penn. “The Cinema Studies program at Penn is a hidden gem,” he said.
As for advice, Smith said that anyone trying to get started in the social media industry should, essentially, be silly. “To be successful on Vine, you have to be extremely outgoing or extremely witty,” Smith said. “Or you could get lucky like me and make something ridiculous that a lot of people like for no reason.”
Students can find Smith’s videos on his Vine account or on his YouTube channel, simplyputchaz.Comments powered by Disqus
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