Gwendolyn Osborne-Smith Expands Her Brand from Model to Business COO
For generations, models have turned into superstars and household names, which have given them a platform for the next phase of their careers. Iman ventured into the world of skincare and makeup with Iman Cosmetics. Tyra Banks retired one of the fiercest walks in runway history to become the creator and host of America’s Next Top Model; and the beautiful Gwendolyn Osborne-Smith has transitioned from modeling to business COO.
Gwendolyn is a familiar face that daytime TV watchers have enjoyed for 12 years on The Price is Right. As a model on the show, she broke barriers with her longevity, which saw changes in hosts for the show, contestants and the freedom models were given to be themselves over time.
Gwendolyn is married to Emmy Award-winning broadcaster and former NBA player Kenny Smith. The model-actress and her family ventured into the world of reality TV in 2014 with their show Meet the Smiths on TBS. So it’s no surprise that after Gwendolyn’s 2017 exit from The Price is Right, she wanted to expand her résumé even further in the world of business and entertainment.
She recently accepted a role as COO of Smith Entertainment Group, her family-operated production company. Kenny is the CEO of Smith Entertainment Group and the company is producing a variety of shows that include lifestyle, docu-series, reality, competition and more.
I recently spoke with Gwendolyn about her role as COO and her time as a model on one of the most iconic game shows in TV history.
JMG: What can you tell us about your role as COO of Smith Entertainment Group?
Gwendolyn Osborne-Smith: As COO, my role is to make sure we are thriving and continuing to pursue the types of content and create the type of content that stays true to our brand, and keeps everybody on the right track. I make sure that I’m there for creative all the way to pitching content and closing deals.
When did the company form?
Well SEG (Smith Entertainment Group) has been going for about four years. I would say we officially started around the time we started our reality show on TBS, and that was in 2014.
I was recently watching clips from Meet the Smiths and I really enjoyed it. What was that experience like working on your reality show?
It was an exciting adventure. It was new for me to produce and be the talent in one production. It was very challenging because it was a reality show and I was the mother on-screen and off-screen, and learning how to have that delicate balance. I loved that I was able to grow through it. I realized the exhaustion of it was a mental growth for me and I truly embraced that, and it’s given me the strength to be the COO for SEG today.
I know you’re currently producing a variety of shows such as a docu-series. Is there anything in development right now that can you tell us about?
Yeah, we are currently in post-production for a project that’s going on truTV. It incorporates a lot of experiences that Kenny has had throughout his NBA career, and we made it into a very fun sketch-comedy that includes animation and narration from him. I have a background in sketch-comedy, so I was able to come in and use my skills and very happily have a good time acting and impersonating some very famous people.
You were on The Price is Right for 12 years, correct?
Yes, for 12 LONG years.
That’s been such an iconic show for decades. How would you describe your experience being on The Price is Right?
I would say that I feel very blessed to be part of such a family-oriented production on television, and to have been named and honored as the longest running woman of color on the longest running daytime game show in history. I got to enjoy the comedy part of myself. Back in the day with Bob Barker, we would actually do mini-sketches and we played different characters at the time. Although we weren’t able to be heard, we would make the most out of the characters we would portray. And it’s just been an overall positive, supportive experience.
Drew Carey was extremely supportive. I actually met him while pregnant with my second child, but not showing at the time, and I was extremely nervous and so anxious because no other model had ever been allowed to show a pregnancy on the show. I didn’t realize it was actually a breakout moment for him and his career, when he supported me as a woman and a model on the show. He was the type of man that was different from any other host that had done it before. He actually celebrated the experience with me and told me to stay if I wanted to and he would introduce the pregnancy every time I would be on the show.
It was such a breakthrough, and I was able to do it again when I had my third child. That allowed the other models to feel like they can do the same. I feel like I set a different bar and made it part of history, and groundbreaking for the models to come. That’s a big part of who I am, empowering (women). That’s why I’m loving this year with Oprah and the year of the woman, I like to call it.
What are your thoughts on Oprah’s Golden Globe speech?
Well let me first say that I truly love Oprah and all that she represents. I do feel like I fit in with her branding over at OWN, which is all about empowering and giving women the confidence to have a voice. I definitely feel that this is a year for women to truly have their voice.