D’Ante Smith has spent much of his career working with social media, both behind the scenes and in front of the camera. At National Geographic, D’Ante is part of the social media and digital team, and he is responsible for developing strategy and creative elements to promote National Geographic’s programming across all of its social media channels.
Before joining National Geographic, D’Ante worked at the XFL as a Social Media Producer and Editor in charge of player content.
“My goal was to help promote the league by focusing on increasing players’ personal brands, which in turns promotes the league as a whole,” D’Ante explains.
In addition, D’Ante was the host of the XFL’s IGTV series, “The Showcase.” He previously worked at ESPN, first in production and then as the Associate Producer for ESPN’s Snapchat shows.
“It was the perfect way to combine my love for social media, mainstream culture, and content creation,” D’Ante says.
1. You’re a graduate of Lincoln University, the first degree-granting HBCU. How did your experiences at Lincoln influence where you are today?
Attending Lincoln University was one of the best decisions of my life. The experiences there helped shape and mold me into the man I am today. It is a really powerful experience to feel free. What I mean by that is for the first time in my life, I didn’t have to worry about facing racism and microaggressions. I didn’t feel like I had to work harder just to get recognized. I could truly focus on myself and the future I wanted.
It also was inspiring to walk the same halls as so many great people who have changed the world, such as Thurgood Marshall and Langston Hughes. Attending Lincoln really helped me gain the self-confidence and pride within myself and my history to go out into the world and be successful.
2. What role models have inspired you?
My role models growing up were my family members, most importantly my parents and grandparents. They were the embodiment of all of the values I cherish and hold dear. They taught me the meaning of hard work, dedication, and perseverance through tough times. Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. They instilled in me the importance of getting an education and giving back any way that I could. I saw the sacrifices they each made to move along the future generations and it really motivated me to become the best version of myself so that I could do the same thing for those who have come after me. They each taught me something different in their own ways, and I can’t stress enough how blessed I am to have a loving and supportive family every step of the way.
As for journalism, my role model was Stuart Scott. He made it acceptable to be Black and be yourself on television for a lot of aspiring journalists. He would say cool phrases and incorporate hip-hop, and he showed that it’s ok to do that. He is definitely someone I admired and looked up to as an inspiration from afar my entire life.
3. We dug into the archives and learned that you created the very popular Disney March Madness Bracket social media campaign for ESPN. Which classic Disney film would be crowned the winner of your bracket and why?
“The Lion King”! Coincidentally, it’s the movie that won the competition at ESPN. I think it’s the best animated movie of all time. The songs are amazing. The storyline was great. The cast was phenomenal. “The Lion King” is pretty much perfect. It really is the standard for movies. In fact, I still watch it to this day with my daughter.
4. You played football in college and now work at National Geographic, so the question must be asked: What animal do you think would be the best at playing football?
Well that’s an interesting question! I think overall the best animal would be a gorilla. They are bigger, faster, and stronger than most other animals. But realistically, different animals would be best at different things. I think a cheetah would make a perfect wide receiver, hippos and elephants would make great linemen, and zebras would probably make for great running backs. So, I guess it would probably be easier to list the best animal per position.
5. After working from home for the past 11 months due to the pandemic, what has been the silver lining for you?
The fact that I am able to spend a lot more time my family. For my previous jobs, I lived in Connecticut while my family was in Maryland, which was really hard. I also worked a lot of hours, so I didn’t really have a good work-life balance. Now I feel I have caught up on a lot of missed time with them. And, equally as important, is that I have a job during this pandemic. Unfortunately, the pandemic has affected a lot of people across the world in a lot of different ways, so I am truly thankful and blessed to still be able to help provide for my family.