You know him from Astray, Arg Stairs, Step Up and Honey 4. You know him as the CEO of WMZ Entertainment. Now, Anthony E. Williams joins us to talk about his new television pilot, F.A.M.
No problem happy to do it. Well I always wanted to be an actor deep down, but never knew where to start. After going to college and getting my MBA I was working for GE and had a bad day. I told my wife I was supposed to be an actor, but now I’m stuck. She told me to do something about it. I was 31 and thought it was too late. Now I’m a SAG actor with credits from Universal/Lionsgate and own a production company and have my own pilot. Of course this is after a lot of classes and auditioning.
I’m from Cleveland, Ohio and went to UNC Charlotte and have a master’s degree in business from the University of Houston. My business background has given me a different view of the industry. I always tell my team it’s ‘Show Business’ not ‘Show Show’. So as an actor I’m thinking from the agent’s perspective, the show runner and the director all the way up to the studio. This makes things a lot less personal when things go wrong. It has also helped me set up WMZ Entertainment. Having a production company allowed me to have a SAG project and obtain the rights to music like ‘REDBONE’ from Childish Gambino, as well as to rent the production equipment not available to individuals but only companies.
When I walk into an office to close a million-dollar deal often the president of the customer is shocked that I’m there. They ask me where I’m from and how I was able to obtain my position in the company. I started to realize that in many of the shows that are hot right now; Atlanta, The Chi, Empire, etc.…. African American’s are seen as people who are always in a great struggle. I simply don’t see my type of life on TV now days. Far too often if there is a black family on TV then it’s either a comedy, or deep drama with drugs and violence. Also, I know from Corporate America that there are just as many blended families that are white. However, the stereotype for African Americans is there are baby-mama and baby-daddy dramas. Rather than simply an Ex or a child from a previous relationship as is shown on traditionally white shows. F.A.M. fights against that stereotype and shows how similar we truly are.
Yes, I’m married, and I have a daughter with my Ex who I’ve known since I was a kid. We dated in college. The part of the show I love, is the growth of a man who has a child at 21, out of wedlock. Then it shows a man in his 30’s doing everything he can to make things right and do right by all the women in his life. F.A.M. also shows people can change as well as showing that some will stay stagnant in their situation. Plus, there are questions about sexuality that I asked my father at a young age, compared to a child asking that to a parent in 2019. ‘Would you love me if I were gay?’ receives a totally different response in today’s LGTBQ world and I feel more parents are prepared to give the right answers as we see Trey attempt to do in F.A.M.
First, I have to point out he is an Emmy Winner not just nominated. Also, Kyle is and has always been my secret weapon in this business. I met him when I starred in his first feature film back in 2012 Astray (Amazon). I quickly found he had the tools to make beautiful films and I had the business mind to give us both better opportunities. Working with Kyle has always given me more footage than a beginner actor which allowed me to go to New York and obtain TV/Commercial agents quickly. In the midst of our projects he worked for OWN out in LA and that’s where he earned his Emmy.
As far as the crew a lot of them came from contacts that Kyle had. Our DP Cody actually came from one of our actress’s recommendations. The crazy thing about this crew was that we only had 4 days to shoot. Kyle and our producer Sean were coming from LA. Mallory Cunningham another Emmy winning producer was coming from Kentucky. Most of our crew was from out of state so we had travel expenses before we even shot our first scene. We had no time or money to spare so this show is a miracle and is a testament to the hard work of our crew.
It’s tough right, because as a man I never had any questions with my own sexuality. However, I remember asking my dad as a kid what would happen if I were gay. I think the beauty in F.A.M. is that Olivia doesn’t even know yet what she is, she does want to inquire if that type of lifestyle is even an option for her. That is the crux of situation a lot of teens are in right now. Before they can come to grips with their sexuality will I even be accepted by my own family. In today’s media everyone seems to be 100% straight or 100% gay on TV. I wanted to show the grey area and the innocence of a teen who is checking in on options at home. Hopefully, one day teens won’t have to check. Also the suicide rates for teens struggling with their sexuality is also extremely high. I hope this series will allow teens and parents to have these discussions. The series also goes into bullying over sexuality, race, and more issues which need to be addressed in our schools as well.
I’m a method actor at heart. Meaning, I truly live the life of the character before we start shooting. Seeing Trey is based on myself that wasn’t hard. However, I did have to get the cast just as deep into character as I was. I spent a lot of time with Acacia, we would go to movies and talk about who she was dating and also discuss her role as O. She met my daughter to get a sense of how our blended family was set up. I did similar things with the actors who played my ex, best friend and wife. I’m still in touch with the cast today and we are looking forward to Ep 2 once the show gets picked up.
I’m a huge “Back to the Future” fan. This is why in the opening credits you see ‘WMZ Entertainment presents a Kyle Romanek film.’ I loved the way Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis shared the ownership even on the poster. I wanted to make sure Kyle and I took that partnership on this project. There is an old film on Netflix called ‘Hav Plenty’ that is low budget but tells a black love story. Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Evans later came on and did the soundtrack. I loved the independent vibe of a black story told with fresh music. I tried to capture that in F.A.M. and I feel like we were successful.
Find and build your team asap. So many people think it has to be friends they have now or they all have to be the same race and tell the same stories. I found that building a team that happens organically from very different backgrounds make for some amazing projects. I would also say write within your budget. When I wrote F.A.M. I never brought up a scene I couldn’t afford. I wrote about the house I owned, the Mustang that was in the garage, and the park that I ran at every day. Doing this will make it more possible to make your film actually happen rather than have to raise funds to go shoot in Maui or something that you can’t do right away.
My focus is on the F.A.M. series. As you stated it’s a pilot so its Season 1 Episode 1. I have 8 episodes laid out in the series bible and have a pitch deck. We also have at least one named actor tied to the project and have even received feedback from a production company owned by an Oscar winner out in LA. The goals are to produce all episodes and then have the show on a major network or streaming platform. I also have another short MALIBU that is about a different side of marriage that people don’t see. We may be shooting that this summer.
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