If you were an avid watcher of Friday Night Lights then you are well aware of just who Brian “Smash” Williams is. Portrayed by actor Gaius Charles, Smash is the fictitious Texan football star who is dealt some serious blows for some youthful indiscretions throughout director Peter Berg’s Direct TV drama.
What ever became of Charles, who played the cocky running back of the Dillion Panthers?
Surprisingly, the talented performer left acting behind to attend Drew Theological School in New Jersey.
Talking in a recent interview with NJ.Com, Charles discussed how his unusual decision was received by his college peers. “People were kind of mystified, but eventually that haze clears up”, adding that he has discovered “people admire and respect that courage when they see somebody stepping out on faith.”
A recent guest star on the TV series Pan Am, Charles will graduate soon with a Masters Degree in Divinity, and is now planning to return to his days of acting full force. “My plan is to bring all that I’ve learned back to the platform I’ve established as an actor. Acting can be a ministry, as well.” Although school maybe over soon for the Friday Night Lights alumni he does recall those days on campus, admitting that fame can get in the way. “I saw that the recognition I had was a barrier to establishing a sense of identity in this community on even ground.” While the twenty-eight year piques the interest of those curious about his star persona, the actor is also questioned about his faith. “People wonder, ‘Well, he must be this religious zealot,’ or ‘He must be a preacher’s kid.’ No, that’s not it. That’s not it at all. It’s something deeper. It’s something spiritual that God put on my heart, even as a young person, that there was something for me in the church.”
Eager to go to church at just ten years old, Charles also shared that he had an inkling he would land his FNL role before attending the screen test. “I remember rolling up my socks, doing laundry, packing up my bags to go to my screen test in L.A. and hearing this voice saying, ‘I’m giving you this part. I just thought to myself, ‘OK, amen!’” The role, Charles says, allowed him to express is faith. “Because I do personally have a faith, it was easy to speak from my heart, to speak from my soul. That kind of thing kept happening, the opportunity to pray or to play different portraits of human brokenness.”
According to the interview, while attending Drew University Charles has “traveled to India to study world religions and Uganda, where he preached at a church and later raised money to support a youth conference there on AIDS/HIV awareness. As an actor, he can bring attention to the causes he supports.”