Heath Smith of Glennville has many irons in the fire… possibly too many, he admits. He stays busy as he holds many titles — business owner, executive producer, actor, YouTuber, and respiratory therapist, to name a few.
One of Heath’s first side businesses was discovered accidentally. One Halloween, Heath dressed up as this redneck, buck-toothed character he created, Billy Ray, as a joke for his two younger kids. Over time, Heath made sketches as Billy Ray and posted the videos to Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok. These comedic videos helped Heath to gain a following on these social media platforms, and later led to the creation of a hot sauce company.
Heath met Ryan Weaver, a country music artist, through an event, Shadow Warriors, which Heath’s leather company, Forj’d Leather, sponsors. Shadow Warriors hosts a fundraiser every year, which brings healing, financial assistance, and service K-9s to military and law enforcement personnel and their families. While discussing a low country boil event for Shadow Warriors on a Facebook live one evening, Ryan said, “Billy Ray is bringing hot sauce.”
This statement from Ryan challenged Heath to make a hot sauce that would pair great with the event’s low country boil. Heath opened up his laptop to YouTube and began trying out different recipes with habanero peppers and cayenne.
“What came of Ryan’s comment was an attempt at making hot sauce. I played with the recipe some, and I kept trying new things,” Heath said. “That is how Billy Ray’s Hot Booty Sauce started. I brought the hot sauce to the event, and so many people liked it. There wasn’t a bottle left.”
Billy Ray’s sauce is FDA approved and comes in several flavors, two of which are unreleased. This hot sauce can be purchased at https://www.billyrays.org/.
Heath also makes YouTube videos where he shows his audience how to cook, make leather accessories, and more. Billy Ray can also be seen on this channel, accessable at https://bit.ly/3J4nLQR.
Heath became interested in films after starting Forj’d Leather. His daughter, Rayleigh, would sit in his lap at night and help him make paracord bracelets. He also makes wallets, cuffs, straps, and keychains. Visit his website, https://forjdleather.com/.
His business boomed when he was asked to make bracelets for country music stars, including Brantley Gilbert and Ryan.
Through meeting Ryan, opportunities for acting in and producing music videos came about. Ryan’s music video, Let’s Talk About Heroes, was filmed in Tattnall and Evans counties with several of the actors and extras being from this area as well.
Square Pegs is another film in which Heath was heavily involved and was also filmed in Tattnall and surrounding counties.
Heath and Ryan are now close friends and are working together on several projects. Heath is currently working on a movie, Knight to Remember, which is currently being filmed in North Carolina.
“All of these pieces have come together so easily,” Heath said. “Film is hard work, but I have been fortunate enough to work with good people who want to make good films.”
Heath is interested in bringing more filming projects to the Tattnall County area, especially now that he is writing his own screenplay.
“I do want people to know that I am not trying to bring Hollywood to Glennville,” Heath said. “I just want to bring opportunities to this area for people who want to get into acting and making films.”
Above all, Heath wants to send positive messages through the movies and music videos he works on. Much of his focus is on faith-based projects.
“I worked in healthcare throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and I struggled for a while to find positive things to focus on,” Heath said. “These films have been one of the most positive aspects of my life since the pandemic.”
Heath juggles all of these side projects while maintaining a full-time job at Evans Memorial Hospital in Claxton as the Director of Cardiopulmonary Services. While most of his interests are entertained outside of work, he still enjoys his job.
“It feels good to be able to help people,” Heath said. “I found out that I work really well in high-stress situations.”
Heath did not know what he wanted to do for work after graduating from Reidsville High School in 1991. He tried his luck at moving to Savannah to get away from Reidsville, which lasted eleven months before he moved back home.
He joined his mom, a registered nurse, at Tattnall Memorial Hospital as an orderly for the time being. While there, he met Debbie Tatum, who approached Heath about attending school for respiratory therapy through an on-the-job training program at Meadows Regional Hospital in Vidalia. He worked his job as an orderly in Tattnall and shadowed a respiratory technician in Vidalia at the same time.
Later on, Heath left Meadows to work at Evans Memorial. He stayed there for a couple of years, and he migrated from a few hospitals until returning back to Claxton. Heath is thankful for Dave Campbell who took him under his wing when he needed guidance at work and in his personal life.
Heath graduated with his degree in respiratory therapy from Independence University. He has been a respiratory therapist for 25 years.
Perhaps being a dad is one of the greatest titles Heath holds. He and his wife, Kelli, have three children, son Gabriel, 28; son Raylan “Buster”, 8; and daughter Rayleigh, 11. They also have a daughter in heaven, Jessie.
Heath is the son of Bobby and Nancy Smith and Gene and Angie Williams. Kelli is the daughter of David and Teresa Perkins.
The Smiths attend Love’s Chapel Primitive Baptist Church in Glennville.
In the kitchen
Heath’s earliest memory was from when he was seven or eight-years old with his Granddaddy Smith, Swinton Smith. It was the first time he flipped his first over-easy egg. He has loved cooking ever since.
“When someone finds something they love, the day they found it sticks with them,” Heath said.
Heath also remembers his first time grilling, which was with his mom when he was around 12 years old. Heath was actually grounded and could not leave the house at the time, but his mom took him and his sisters, Heidi and Heather, to Jack Hill’s Grocery Store and bought all the fixings to grill burgers.
“Mama rented two western movies… it was the best grounding ever,” Heath said. “One of the westerns we watched was Fist Full of Dollars. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I have loved grilling ever since then, and we made it somewhat of a tradition.”
The Smiths grill every weekend, especially steaks. Buster and Rayleigh enjoy helping in any way they can. The family has started a cookbook, which they add to every time they master a recipe.
One of Heath’s favorite dishes is Kelli’s crab cakes served with his homemade crab sauce. He also loves Kelli’s buttermilk pancakes, and she is always assisted by her two sous-chefs.
Heath Smith’s Recipes
1 1/2 cups all purpose
3 1/2 teaspoons baking
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
3 tablespoons melted
1 1/4 cup warm milk
Stir together dry ingredients. Make a well and pour in wet ingredients. Lightly oil griddle with several tablespoons of oil to fry and crisp edges of pancakes. Heat griddle to 325°. Look for air bubbles before flipping.
Kelli’s Crab Cakes
Crab Cake Mixture
2/3 cups breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons green onion
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Old Bay
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs (lightly
2 tablespoons parsley
2 teaspoons Dijon
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Hot Booty
16 oz crabmeat
2/3 cups bread crumbs
2 teaspoons Old Bay
2 teaspoons red pepper
1 teaspoons salt
Heat griddle to 300°. Add peanut oil to cover the bottom of the griddle. Stir together the crumb coating on a plate and set it aside. Combine the first 11 ingredients of the crab cake mixture then gently stir in crab trying to avoid breaking the clumps of crab. Once mixed, scoop large balls of crab mixture with a spoon or cookie scoop and set in crumb coating. Flip the ball over to cover both sides. Set the crab ball in a griddle and smash with a spatula to form a cake shape. Cook for three minutes on each side. Set on a paper towel to drain. Top with Slap Yo Mama Sauce to eat plain or turn it into a sandwich. (You may have to add more oil in between crab cakes. Allow the pan/oil to heat back up between cookings.)
Slap Yo’ Mama Sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons Billy Ray’s Hot Booty Sauce (billyrays.
2 teaspoons garlic chili
1 teaspoon salt
Stir together and use on crab cakes, fried green tomatoes, french fries, onion rings, etc.