His nonprofit 501CTHREE.org has teamed up with KindHuman and Homeless Health Care to install a water box in Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles to provide clean drinking water at the rate of 10 gallons per minute. The box is at the ReFresh Spot, which provides community access to restrooms, showers and laundry facilities.
“ReFresh Spot is expanding and they’re growing, so we wanted to team up with them not only to help but also shed more light on them,” Smith tells Variety.
Smith’s work follows the installation of four water boxes in Flint, Mich., since 2019 as well as one in Newark, N.J. Next up is Uganda, where installation has been delayed because of the pandemic. “It was my biggest dream to put a water box in Uganda, in places where people are dying from waterborne diseases or dehydration,” Smith says. “As soon as the world opens up and we’re permitted to go there, we will be there.”
While the demand is high for more water boxes, Smith says 501CTHREE.org will help in other ways if installation isn’t an option in the near future.
“If we can’t immediately do something, we’ll say, ‘Hey, we’re going to work with you for the next year on trying to figure out how we can do this,’” Smith explains. “We tell them, ‘We’re going to work with you for the next year until we have the right amount of funding and the right amount of people on the ground and the resources to make it happen.’”
He’s also leaning on social media to get the word out. “What I want to do is inspire other young people and people of all ages to come and join me and to work with me to make this world better – create more impact, connect with more people and create a network of positivity on social media, and change the algorithm and the narrative of some of the things that circulate around on social media,” Smith says.
As for his professional life, “Life in a Year,” his romantic drama with Cara Delevingne, was released on Nov. 27. He stars as a young man who falls for a woman with cancer who only has about a year to live. “I hate to break this to you, but you are going to cry so much when you watch it,” Smith says. “It’s a tear-jerker for sure. I cried a lot while filming, too. The first time that I watched it I cried so much. It’s impactful. It’s just emotional.”
The storyline hit close to home. His best friend, musician Harry Hudson, is a cancer survivor. “I used to go to chemo with him and he talked to me about a lot of different things and gave me a lot of his perspective,” Smith says.
Before the end of the interview, Variety had to ask what Smith — who starred in the 2010 “Karate Kid” reboot with Jackie Chan — if he’s watched “Cobra Kai,” the Netflix series based on the martial arts film franchise.
“Of course I’ve watched,” he says. “It’s amazing. I think it’s fantastic. I really love it.”