Traci Wilkes Smith
Willinger Talent Agency
New York City
As a child of educators, Traci Wilkes Smith learned the value of discipline and a strong work ethic. She chose a legal career instead of education. “I became interested in pursuing a legal career during college. I enjoyed many of my political classes and wanted to learn more,” says Wilkes Smith, who received a bachelor’s degree in political science and Africana studies from Rutgers College and a law degree from Rutgers University School of Law.
Three years out of law school, she embarked on a career path that merged her love of the law and her creative side. As a talent agent with the Willinger Talent Agency in New York, Wilkes Smith represents anchors, reporters in news and sports and entertainment hosts at various networks, and the top 30 markets in the country. “Fortunately, I found a career where I can merge both my legal skills through negotiating talent agreements and the passionate, energetic and creative side of my personality though representing on-air talent. I am blessed and lucky,” says Wilkes Smith, who is licensed to practice law in New York and New Jersey.
When’s she not fighting for her clients, she fights to increase awareness of the signs and symptoms of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms — conditions that nearly killed her. “At only twenty-five years old I suffered a pulmonary embolism — a blood clot that traveled from my stomach to my lungs — and I could have died. I walked around for months having difficulty breathing and with a pain in my back,” explains Wilkes Smith, who is vice president of the board of directors of the National Blood Clot Alliance. “Although I visited many doctors my symptoms were misdiagnosed. Fortunately, after one last evening of sitting up all night and barely breathing, I visited the ER one more time. I am blessed to be alive.”
Dish you cook best: Saratu’s red stew (Nigerian dish)
Favorite book: Stieg Larsson’s Dragon Tattoo Trilogy
Favorite singer: Sade