Man's loss of an arm gets him a role in major Hollywood film

One-armed Actor in Birth of a Nation
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: Sandra Smith)
(Source: Sandra Smith)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Something many would consider an obstacle in life got one Jonesboro man a casting role in the Hollywood film, "The Birth of a Nation."

Gregory Smith lost his arm at the age of 7 in a farming accident.

Little did he know, his loss at that time would be a major gain in the movie world.

The film, "The Birth of a Nation" is based on a true story depicting the life of an enslaved Baptist preacher by the name of Nat Turner who eventually starts an uprising against injustice.

During a casting call, a friend of the Smith's family found out that the casting director was looking for a person with one arm.

"She call me up asking if I would be interested," said Gregory. "I thought about it and later that evening I said yes. She told us to send her pictures and later that night we got a call."

"The thing to me that I've always thought that sometimes would hold him back was the thing that they sought out," said Sandra Smith, Gregory's wife.

Shortly later the couple and their family were headed to Savannah, Georgia.

"Even though it wasn't a talking role, I played a slave who had one arm and was being sold on the cellblock for a lesser price because of the defect," said Gregory.

The Smith's said not only having the opportunity to act in a major film with great actors inspiring but also being face to face with history also hit close to home.

"Just being there in that atmosphere was great seeing how everything I have read about and see on TV was demonstrated in real life to me," said Gregory.

"I almost had to walk away a couple of times seeing my husband up there on that cellblock and imagining how things were for my ancestors, slave masters, and slave masters who didn't want to own slaves," said Sandra. "It was just incredible seeing all of the machines and everything that happens behind the scenes."

Gregory said he looks at his accident that caused him to lose his arm as something that was necessary to happen.

"Things happen for a reason," said Gregory. "A chance for something else may come about to do something you never thought you could. Trust God and don't be afraid to step out and try something new or different that you may not ever see happening in your life."

Sandra said her husband's strength and courage throughout their 20-year-marriage has kept their family going strong.

"We have four sons and never have I ever had a problem with them being afraid to accomplish any of their goals because of him," said Sandra.

The Smith's said they want their experience in the "The Birth of a Nation" to encourage everyone to always take risks no matter how difficult your situation appears to be.

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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