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"I Needed to Survive," Tasha Smith on Her Money Struggles and Why She Had to Become a Stripper

Claudine Varela
Apr 05, 2019
07:18 A.M.

Tasha Smith has nothing but respect for strippers because she too worked as one. "I respect them as human beings and women," she says in and reveals why.

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She moonlighted as a stripper and comedian during days when she “needed to survive” and Tasha Smith has only good things to say about it.

 Tasha Smith attending the Premiere of 'When Love Kills,"on August 22, 2017 in Los Angeles.  She directed the film based on the true story of an exotic dancer.

Tasha Smith attending the Premiere of 'When Love Kills,"on August 22, 2017 in Los Angeles. She directed the film based on the true story of an exotic dancer.

STRIPPING TO MAKE A LIVING

Smith opened up to Ebony about her “Uncensored” episode where she made no excuses for her authenticity.

“It’s who I am…I’m black, I’m proud, I’m from Camden, New Jersey, I’ve gone through a rough life, I’ve had rough experiences,” she says. “I’m where I am today, I encourage and empower other people. I have a testimony that helps inspire other people and you, know, it’s just what it is.”

"I would go from the comedy club, to the strip club, do a quick 3-4 hour set…go back to the strip club.… So it was just a way that I was just surviving.”

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Smith was only 14 when she quit high school and began working odd jobs before moving to Los Angeles to search for greener pastures. She began working as a stand-up comedian but it didn’t pay much.

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“Back in the day you didn’t really make a lot of money doing stand-up…Sometimes you might make 15, 20 bucks…it wasn’t a lot of money,” she told The Breakfast Club in 2017.

So she took a second job as a stripper and would move from one stage to another in one night.

“I needed to survive. For me, I needed to support my comedy career, my acting career…Most of the comics I know, didn’t even know I was stripping. I would go from the comedy club, to the strip club, do a quick 3-4 hour set…go back to the strip club.… So it was just a way that I was just surviving.”

“When I did dance, it empowered me with that sense of ‘Oh, I am sexy, oh, I am beautiful, you know.’”

RESPECT FOR THE PROFESSION

But despite how others may perceive her choice of second profession, Smith has nothing but respect for it. She told Ebony,

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“Dancers, they work hard, you know. Their bodies ache just like athletes. A lot of them that are talented when it comes to pole work, which I wasn’t. They really are working their butts off. I respect them as human beings and women, who have chosen to do something to serve the talent that they have.”

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ON BEING YOURSELF

When asked if being a dancer gave her more confidence, Smith says in a way it did. It helped her overcome her fears and insecurities.

“When I did dance, it empowered me with that sense of ‘Oh, I am sexy, oh, I am beautiful, you know.’"

Bottom line, Smith doesn’t believe in hiding behind a façade. Her message to others is to “be okay with who you are and don’t be concerned about the way people may think about you.”

“Be who you are and don’t try to change for someone else,” she adds.

OTHER STARS WHO STRIPPED

Smith’s stripper days are way behind her now that she’s a successful actress who’s appeared in several Tyler Perry films as well as television shows like “The Game” and “Empire.” But it will always be a part of who she is and she’s proud of that.

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Smith is also in good company. There are several stars today who likewise stripped in their past. Among them, Cardi B, Channing Tatum, and Lady Gaga.

Cardi was only 20 years old when she amassed $20,000 from stripping. She even confessed to drugging and robbing a man during those days. Channing’s life as a Florida stripper actually inspired his film, “Magic Mike,” while Gaga was only 18 when she used the profession to make ends meet after dropping out and leaving her parents’ home.

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