Born August 10, 1968, in Birmingham Alabama, Rickey Smiley’s rise to superstardom began when he was given the opportunity to be the opening act for several comedic titans, including Steve Harvey, George Wallace, and Carl Strong. With more than 25 years in the entertainment industry, Smiley has become one of the industry’s most engaging entertainers and a true entrepreneur, building an impressive empire that has landed him preeminent roles on radio, television, film, and on-stage performances.
When Smiley was 6 years old his father was killed, but he had several wonderful role models who stepped in to help fill the void. His grandfather and uncles became his father figures and instilled values in him that made him the man he is today. Smiley didn’t grow up in a wealthy family. However, the people who surrounded him gave him a great sense of self and morals that no amount of money could buy. With this background, and a true desire to give back to the community, Smiley founded The Rickey Smiley Foundation, a nonprofit organization created to impact the lives of children and teens through programs that inspire, impact, and motivate young people to live life to their fullest potential, as well as celebrate the lives of seniors who are the fabric of the community.
Growing up in a church filled with colorful characters inspired Smiley’s signature characters that have visibly become a part of his comedic trademark. Smiley is one of the few “clean” comics amongst the top tier of contemporary great comedians, and he has amassed a deeply loyal fan base of enthusiasts who gravitate to his quick-witted delivery and captivating energy. He has performed sold out shows where his diverse audiences are drawn to characters such as “Mrs. Bernice Jenkins,” “Lil’ Daryl,” “Joe Willie,” “Beauford,” and “Minister Joe Willie.”
In 2000, Smiley started his climatic rise to stardom as the headlining host of BET’s “ComicView” and became further distinguished as the only comedian who has had the honor of hosting two consecutive successful seasons, catapulting the show to its highest ratings in history. After achieving this milestone, BET then quickly signed Smiley to host “The Way We Do It” during the 2001-2002 season, which later became one of the networks top five shows. Smiley also delivered unforgettable appearances on “Showtime at The Apollo,” “Uptown Comedy Club”, HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam” and “Snaps.”
In 2007, Smiley became the host of the Rickey Smiley Morning Show. Based in Atlanta, in over 55 markets and growing, the Rickey Smiley Morning Show is a blend of laughter, social issues, and celebrity news. Each day, millions of fans faithfully tune in and listen to the show best known for its rib-tickling prank phone calls, as Rickey delivers witty commentary and unpredictable humor. Using radio as an uplifting message vehicle, Rickey’s insightful yet humorous interviews with A-list celebrities raise social and political awareness. Smiley’s down-home southern charm and philosophy to use insight rather than vulgarity to evoke laugher, is one of the many reasons he forged a partnership with Radio One, one of the most respected urban broadcasting conglomerates in the country.
Smiley served as host of the prestigious Trumpet Awards in 2012, the 29th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards in 2014, and the 2014 NAACP Image Awards Dinner & Pre-Party. He was also a presenter at the NAACP Image Awards Ceremony. He has 8 bestselling CDs including iTunes #1 Best Selling Comedy Album, “Rickey Smiley- Prank Calls Number 6.”
“I love what I do and enjoy getting up every day with the expressed purpose of bringing joy into the lives of others through laughter. The greatest satisfaction I can receive is knowing that my talents are a form of escapism that brings happiness into so many deserving lives. To be blessed with sold out tours, a successful radio show and 2 Television platforms is more than I could ever have dreamed and I am committed to working harder than ever to continue to be a positive influence and all around best entertainer I can be.” Rickey Smiley