We are thrilled to highlight one of five distinguished alumni who were inducted into the Vanderbilt Student Media Hall of Fame in 2023. The Hall of Fame honors alumni who have achieved outstanding personal or professional accomplishments or made distinguished and lasting contributions to their field or to society in general.
Justin S. Smith graduated from Vanderbilt in 2003 with a major in communications studies and a minor in business administration, and this year marks his 20-year college reunion.
He remembers fondly his time at Vanderbilt Television, where he “loved a good late-night ‘man on the street’ interview at Branscomb,” and he said he enjoyed attending student media conferences. Smith said he and fellow ’03 alum Matthew Saul shared the title of station manager at Vanderbilt Television and then shared one roof while living in Beverly Hills for 12 years while they pursued careers in entertainment.
Smith said VTV was the launch pad for his professional career, describing it as the closest to a vocational practice he received at Vanderbilt. As a student, he networked into his first internship at Nashville Public Television. Fast forward 20 years later: Smith recently completed production of an acclaimed series for PBS he helped relocate to Nashville. He describes it as “a nice bookend to a 20-year journey.”
After graduation, Smith spent five years in the entertainment industry’s freelance marketplace. There were many stops, including retrofitting Wrigley Field and Fenway Park for the NHL’s Winter Classic, but the most exciting was producing with Al Gore during his 2007 worldwide event Live Earth.
In 2008, he was recruited into an explosive growth opportunity with international production company All3Media America. Currently, he serves as senior vice president of production. His responsibilities include operational oversight of a dynamic non-scripted production slate.
Smith describes each day as an adventure, splitting time between production of quiz, cooking, documentary, factual, travel and challenge competition shows. His hallmark productions included United Shades of America (CNN) and Undercover Boss (CBS)—both with two Emmy wins for Outstanding Program under his management. Smith points to Boss with great pride.
“It is typically the best conversation-starter about my career, and the show’s core value of empathy has shaped my personal managerial style.”
He remains engaged in youth and student development through Young Life, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Vandy-in-Hollywood and VSC.