Stephen A. Smith Landed His General Hospital Role By Gushing About The Soap On TV

Who knew that a sportscaster could also be an ardent "General Hospital" fan? As it turns out, that describes Stephen A. Smith perfectly. He produces and hosts sports show "First Take" and "Stephen A's World" on ESPN, as well as regularly hosting ABC and ESPN's "NBA Countdown." Not only that, but he even hosts his own show, the aptly-titled "Stephen A. Smith Show," on SiriusXM's "Mad Dog Sports Radio Monday." With all those projects going on, Smith still finds the time to occasionally pop into Port Charles as Brick, a role that he initially portrayed in March of 2016, although he previously had a cameo as a TV reporter in 2007. Brick works for mobster Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) as a tech expert and surveillance guru, and has proven himself to be an invaluable asset in protecting Sonny's family as well as his criminal enterprise.

In an interview on "ESPN Front Row" posted on March 28, 2016, Smith recalled his lifelong love of "GH," explaining, "I have four older sisters and when we came home from school, all the TVs in the house were on 'General Hospital.' Since I wasn't allowed outside until I finished my homework, I watched the soap every day." He further noted that Benard had appeared on "First Take" in 2015 and after that, "Maurice recognized that I was a huge fan and said he'd have to get me on the show."

Smith doesn't have a lot of time to rehearse

Sportscaster Stephen A. Smith appeared on "The Tamron Hall Show" in May 2023 and discussed his role as Brick on "General Hospital." He explained that after his cameo appearance on the sudser in 2007, he gushed about being a fan of soap operas on his show, "First Take," noting that his co-workers gave him some ribbing for it. This, however, worked to his advantage, as he explained that afterward, "The executive producer for 'General Hospital' Frank Valentini was watching it, and next thing I know I received an invitation to come and do a scene with Maurice Benard who plays Sonny Corinthos." After his initial performance, Valentini approached him and offered to make the role recurring rather than simply a one-off if Smith thought he'd be able to fit it into his schedule. 

He then reminisced about watching "GH" in his youth, recalling, "I go back as far as Luke and Laura, the Cassadines, Frank Smith, and the weather machine, Bobbi's boyfriend, getting shot in the elevator when it was supposed to be Luke Spencer..." He explained he was in his nearby school when the other ABC sudsers "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" were on, but got out at 3 p.m., racing home to watch "GH." When appearing on the soap, he doesn't have a great deal of rehearsal time, getting his lines only days before shooting and often memorizing them the night before.

Maurice Benard helps Smith find his emotions in a scene

On the Tamron Hall show, Smith recalled how the lines he his character Brick spoke increased with each subsequent appearance, and the limited rehearsal time meant Smith once flubbed them, which held up production. "From that day forward I was like I don't mess around," he said. His mantra became to diligently know his lines before taping, remarking that without having those lines memorized, he'd never be able to connect with the character on a deep level. 

Smith went on to say that commitment to his craft is courteous to the other actors because halting production "hurts to derail their momentum, their rhythm, and the kind of things that come with it and that's why I really, really take it so seriously." He recognized that "GH" is the stars' bread and butter, and he doesn't want his actions to affect them in a negative way.

Smith also gushed about a special friendship he's formed on the show. "I've been blessed and fortunate because I do scenes primarily with the star of the show and we've developed an incredible friendship, Maurice Benard and myself," he revealed. Smith shared one occasion when the characters had to mourn for someone who died, and Benard asked Smith to recall the time in real life when his own mother died, stating, "I need you to go back to that moment. I need you to embrace how you were feeling at that moment in time." Benard expressed his confidence in Smith's ability to draw on that sad time in his life to inform his acting, noting, "[And] that's exactly what I did."