Vanessa Thomas Smith was born and raised in Philadelphia. She graduated from Temple University with a BFA in Dance performance and education. She was a performer for three years at Walt Disney World, dancer and administrator with The Philadelphia Dance Company (PHLADANCO) for a total of 16 years, and toured with American circuses from 1979 -1998. She was the First African American Female Ringmaster in American circus history. She is currently the Business Manager for Your Part-Time Controller, LLC, an accounting firm specializing in nonprofits with offices in Philadelphia, Washington, DC, New York City, Houston and Phoenix. She continues to teach ballet and Zumba 4 times / week.