I first saw Yoland Smilez at the Skylark performance of Don’t Grab My Pussy!, the comedy and spoken word show created by Kelsey Claire Hagan that has raised money across western NY for sexual assault victims.
Yolanda’s set was hilarious with its edgy social commentary. So I am thrilled that Che is spotlighting her life and work.
An aspiring and successful actor, Che is deeply immersed in the Rochester cultural scene. So much so, we’ve named him Che of The Town!
Exclusively for Talker, Che has solicited and is conducting interviews from about 50 Rochestarians working in a diversity of creative fields.
For the full series, see Che of The Town: Interviews (1-18)
Introducing Yolanda Smilez; Our Queen of Comedy.
In this highlight, we turn our attention to Yolanda Smilez a recognizable force in the community and world of comedy. A true Queen in her own right, Yolanda has a true story to tell behind that beautiful smile. Hhere is what we discussed.
Q. Tell us a little about yourself. Where your from, grew up, what H.S./College you attended etc.
Hi, I’m Yolanda Smilez, I was born and grew up in Rochester, N.Y. I attended East High School, graduated from Rochester Business Institute with a degree in Business Administration. I’m a mother of three, ages 20, 12 and 4.
The name Yolanda Smilez was created because I’m always smiling. I’m always positive and I’ve been through so much that you would think I shouldn’t be happy or smiling, but no matter what your going through, you will smile again. My mission is to have everyone join in on board to spread more smiles in the community. That is the goal with Smilez Ent. and pretty much anything I do.
Q. What inspired you to be an artist/entertainer? Early experiences worth sharing?
So growing up in the West Side of Rochester, I’m known for always having a positive attitude. I didn’t grow up in the best of environments, coming from the statistic of being a high school droupout and teenage mom, but I overcame all that and pursued my college degree in Business Administration and started several different businesses. I definitely worked nine to five, well…I still work a nine to five (laughs).
I was working at a call center when a friendof mine mentioned to me that I should try my hand at Comedy. I was like, “I’m people funny/around the table funny, I’m not stage funny.” But my coworkers invited me to Open Mic, which was held at Clarissa Room every Wednesday night at an event hosted by Ms. Grace Flores, a local artist and legend in the local poetry scene. When I went up on stage one Wednesday night, I ended up falling in love. It was as if something was missing and THAT was IT. Several years later, I’m still going strong.
Q. Talk about a time where you faced Adversity/Conflict and have triumphed.
Losing my job was one of the biggest things, but it also put me in a position to pursue comedy full time, and I tried it full time for a year and a half. It didn’t work for me financially, but it DID make me a better comic. I did end up having to go back to get a nine to five to sustain balance.
Q. What do you believe sets you apart from other entertainers?
I truly believe what sets me apart is that I’m always hungry to learn. I always look at the bigger picture, and I always remind myself to stay hungry and to never get so big headed that you forget where you came from. I look at a lot of music artists, if you listen to their first two albums, they we’re phenomenal because they were hungry. Then you listen to something 10-20 years down the line and because they got comfortable and content, they stopped working as hard It’s not the same artist you fell in love with.
Q. Do you have other interests or hobbies?
I like to bowl, go to the movies, go to basketball games, I like to do simple stuff. I don’t really have any hobbies, I’m constantly thinking of other opportunities and ways to make money. I want to be able to travel and get to experience different cultures and just learn how to vacation properly.
Q. Any projects your currently working on?
Yes, June 10th. I’ll be back with my headliner show, it’s a comeback show since my hiatus in September. The show is a full set. I’ll be discussing things like being a mother, being divorced, being out on the dating scene and being an all around BOSS.
I’m working on a few more projects as well. I’m going into the studio to record my live debut comedy album, I also have a book I’m currently working on titled, “Big Mama’s a True Trap Queen.” It’s an urban book I’m currently working on and we are in the process of putting together the final touches.
Q. Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
I would like to see myself at a point where I’m recognized in the world of comedy and being booked at least sixty percent of the month.
Q. What advice can you give to aspiring artists/entertainers?
My advice is, stay humble, stay eager to learn and never give up! Never give up when your back is against the wall, when it feels like no one’s there, never give up on what you believe in. Learn, educate yourself in what you want to be, that is the key thing. A lot of people want to be something and jump on the scene, but educate yourself so that you can be successful.
Q. How can we follow along in your journey? Social media?
People can find me on all social media;
FB Comedy Page: ComedianYolandaSmilez
FB Personal Page: Yolanda Charmaine Smilez