Interview by DW McKinney
Several years ago, as I wandered a building’s labyrinthine hallways in search of my gym class, I stumbled on a woman in an empty room. She danced in front of a mirrored wall with precise and graceful movements. She exuded power that halted me at the door, knocked me on the nose, and announced, “You are witnessing something wonderful.” The woman stopped when she noticed me gawking at her from the doorway.
I stumbled over my words before I managed to say, “Sorry! I’m looking for someone” and then I awkwardly complimented her before scurrying away. Maybe I said she danced beautifully or that she was amazing. I can’t be too objective because these are things I know to be irrefutable truths now, but undoubtedly what I said was infallible then too. Either way, I spoke too much and this young woman was gracious. I closed the door and continued my search, but I left marked with the distinct impression that I had just been introduced to greatness.
I saw the young woman multiple times after that day and was too embarrassed by my initial awkward encounter with her to officially introduce myself. It wasn’t until a year later that I officially met Candace Smith.
Since then, I attended one of her dance classes for beginners. We ran a Tough Mudder together. I sat in a writer’s workshop where she was one of the guest speakers. She and her husband have opened their home to my family for dinner. She has provided her home as a safe space for me and other women to share our emotional and spiritual journeys. We have run the gamut of human emotion and physical trials together, yet there is still so much about Candace that I do not know and I accept this as another truth. It is best to say that Candace Smith is a life-giving wellspring with unseen depths. She provides so much to those around her, and her limit is nowhere in sight.
For Langston: Can you tell me a little bit about your background? I was thinking last night that I’ve known you for a while, but I just don’t know everything.
Candace Smith: I was born in Connecticut and raised, part of my life, in Virginia then Southern California. I later moved to Florida. The reason I am in Texas is because I woke up one morning and I felt like God told me to move. I bought a ticket and I was gone within a week. This was also during a crazy time. I guess about a year prior, my fiancée at the time had passed away. Financially, my family was on hard times. There was a lot happening. It was hard to move. I was living with my brother, sister, and my mom. But I’m glad I did because it ended up helping all of us.
FL: How long did it take you to get into the dance?
CS: I was dancing and choreographing at my church back home. That’s how I got started. When I got here, the amazing Lindsay White was putting together a dance team and everything. She taught me jazz, tap—which I have a love-hate relationship with—ballet, hip hop, modern…
FL: So you’ve had no formal training?
FL: Do you see yourself staying with your [current] church’s dance ministry or do you see yourself having your own studio?
CS: The dance classes I just started are under my dance studio. I am renting the dance studio at my church, but the classes are under my company.
FL: What’s your dance company?
CS: Beauty and Rage Studios
FL: Is that where you had the sexy ladies dance classes?
CS: No, well, we plan on getting that started up again because of the drama that brought up. It was great, but, looking into it, people assumed different things. Sexy dance classes will still be happening in the future. I still believe in sexuality and wives being comfortable with their sexuality with their husbands. And, if you use it to get fit…?
FL: That’s another plus.
CS: You know what I’m saying.
FL: I think that’s great and empowering. When I saw that, it was affirming because when you get married, it’s not “Well everything is still fine!” No, you have to keep tossing logs into the fire. You gotta keep it going! So, I appreciated that.
CS: The classes are fun and women came with their heels on. It was funny and weird on our end because you never know how people are going to receive it. But we had a fun group of women. It will be back.
FL: When did you get into writing?
CS: I’ve had a love for writing since the fifth or sixth grade. I had a really cool writing teacher and she made us have this journal and write these stories. She would gives us a picture and make us write stories about it. Because I grew up watching horror movies, which I love, my first story was about a haunted house.
I am super visual, so I picture stuff and then write it out. Or, I get a flood of words and then I can’t do anything until I get it out of my head. It has kind of grown into me being able to process stuff out. I have a few books that I’ve started working on. They all have a fictitious bend to them. But one is about discernment and me kind of discerning and seeing spirits and personifying them. But I am writing that out so that if someone else reads them, they can identify with it.
I also love Ted Dekker. He writes Christian horror. He takes these stories out of the Bible and makes them horror. So, I have a book that is kind of in that area that is more modern. I love writing. It’s such an outlet. I like imagining things whether it’s dark or has a heaviness to it or fully girly. I like all of it.
FL: Are you still writing on your blog?
CS: I am working on a website so I paused on writing stuff so that we’ll have content for the website. My main focus has been Instagram, just keeping something happening.
FL: Tell me what was your inspiration for The Suchy Much? When did you create it?
CS: It branched off from Beautifully Broken. That was me wanting to do conferences and blogs and discussing real life stuff. I had another website that never got completed and that was deflating for me. It took a minute for me to realize that this was what I really wanted to do and to move forward.
I was playing around with names and said, “I have so much in my head!” And The Suchy Much came out of that. I have so much going on in my head and in my life and I want to share that—the ugliness and the beauty—so that other people will feel the freedom to do the same thing. The Suchy Much is all of the things. I didn’t want it to be one thing in particular. I wanted it to be me and the people I bring into it. I wanted people to be real, even if it’s taboo. If it’s your story, then it’s your story.
FL: Tell me more about your Suchy Much partners.
CS: Deanna Opheim is our inner and outer beauty expert. She is great with make up, style, hair, and learning how to take care of yourself as a woman and doing small things to make you feel beautiful. But she is also about your heart being healed and knowing how God feels about you and knowing that you’re precious, important, and loved as a woman. What she does is a beautiful blend of the whole woman, which is what I want for The Suchy Much. That includes if you are married, have kids, or are single. It’s part of being your whole woman.
Dee has also done blogs about insecurities and difficulties with her past marriage and the wounds that caused, coming out of that, and being able to get married again. She has become a special part of my life. She is crazy, and girly and really athletic. She couldn’t care less what people think about her.
FL: Yep. She blows the stereotypes of what a “girly woman” is.
CS: She has a perfect blend of inner and outer beauty. It is so important to her for women to know who they are inwardly and have that flow outwardly.
And then there is my mom, Ramona. She has been the pillar of our family. She is the prayer warrior. She taught me how to pray and to believe for the impossible. She has been such a blessing for me and she taught me to fight for my life. Not everyone has that and so, I believe people need to hear these prayers. She writes Bible studies and content. She is a wealth of knowledge and is unapologetic about it.
She just speaks life and that is a consistent thing for her. We hear death all the time—you don’t have enough, you don’t know enough, you’re not pretty enough. We hear all of these negative things. We don’t know how to speak life or speak into the chaos and pain like we should. So, she gives us tools, especially for those who can’t even get out of bed. At least you can swipe and read what she wrote. Eventually we’ll have a segment where you can get her perspective on things.
FL: What about Rodnesha Green?
CS: She is doing her point of view of being in California and pursuing her dream in a very hostile environment.
FL: Is she acting?
CS: Yes! She is showing how to get into the acting world and still hold onto your morals. It’s an interesting process to watch and experience with her dealing with her insecurities while getting big breaks. She is taking us on her journey of being in a place where she is passionate but dealing with the rejection and enduring Hollywood stereotypes and not looking the part and not wanting to sleep with the director. She has been persevering like nobody’s business and I admire her for that.
FL: Hearing you talk, Rod reminds me of Yvonne Orji. She’s an actress on Issa Rae’s Insecure. Yvonne is the opposite of her character on the show. She’s 30-something and still a virgin. Hearing women, Black women, come out and say, “We don’t have to do this, we can still come out in this industry and still be virgins” is inspirational. We need more voices so people can hear that.
CS: It’s no easy feat when you’re not willing to compromise. That goes for writing and acting or whatever you’re working on. Are you willing to compromise who you are so that you can get more clicks and likes?
FL: Do you plan on doing any more series? I really loved your ROAR series.
CS: Yes! I am trying to figure out how I want to go about it moving forward. I really want to do a series on how to be a wife. I have been thinking about this for two and a half years. It came out of an experience where my husband came back from a retreat and he brought back flowers and stuff. A few hours later, I just wigged out. It was the first time I was home without him with our son and I kept thinking what if he doesn’t come home? I just fell apart. I realized I hadn’t seen an example of how to be a wife, and I didn’t know how to be one and I was worried about becoming a single mom.
Then I was thinking that there has to be other women who feel this way, that didn’t have a married couple that they grew up looking up to or who could teach them how to take care of their husband and themselves or how to advocate for themselves in the marriage. But I want the series to be very true to the needs of the women about to get married or who aspire to be married. It’s about helping them figure out how to go about doing that. It’s about helping them identify what that looks like for them while also teaching them how not to lose themselves in the process. To not let that title become all of who they are and that they can be something that is powerful where they do not have to feel weak or diminished.
FL: What about your future retreats and conferences?
CS: I want women to feel empowered to do what God has called them to do. The retreats will create a space for them to laugh or cry or take a nap, to just be who they are in that safe space. That’s the focus of my retreats.
Conferences are such a time of empowerment. At some point, a speaker is speaking directly to you. You have these deep conversations about what you heard. It feels more intimate than a retreat because you are with your people. For my conferences, I want to pull in people from around the world to pour into different avenues of our lives. I love conferences and the energy. Retreats are more focused on being a getaway and a need to process some things. The conferences are a way of pushing ahead.
With Pick Pour & Chat [small gatherings The Suchy Much offers throughout the year where women pick a mug that expresses their current mood, imbibe delicious hot beverages, and chat about real life], I will never charge for Pick Pour & Chat. I want that to be an intimate and a safe space for small groups of women so that they can process. That will be a continuous thing with different topics.
FL: I love Pick Pour & Chat.
CS: I feel like every woman comes expecting to feel safe and expecting God to show up in whatever capacity. It’s a really cool atmosphere for me. So often I feel rejuvenated afterward.
FL: A hundred percent of the time.
CS: It’s nice to labor through something and see it give birth every month that I have it. I never know how it’s going to pan out or who is going to show. I always want that to be quaint and free. I want the retreats and conferences to pull in larger amounts of women who are unable to do Pick Pour & Chat.
FL: It’s about to rain, so my last thing is…usually I ask, “What do you do for self-care,” but I am inspired to ask you something different. Do you have a final word of wisdom or something you want to share? And not necessarily just for women, but in general.
CS: One of main things that I share with whoever I am talking to is to fight for your life. Fight for your dreams. Fight for what you want. Fight to get your stuff back that you feel like was stolen from you. Fight for your voice. No one else is going to do it like you can do it. If that means saying, “I need help,” that’s fighting for your life. If that’s saying, “I need you to hold me accountable,” that’s fighting for your life. If it means you putting your foot down and saying, “No, this is who I am,” that’s fighting for your life. No matter what it looks like, no matter how tired you are, fight for your life.
*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity—and because of all the jokes on jokes on jokes.
Candace Smith lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two beautiful boys. She is a dancer, speaker, writer, singer, and advocate for women. Catch up with her and The Suchy Much on Instagram.