By Jennice Fuentes
Last week, at the Sundance Film Festival, I had the opportunity to sit down with a very focused and extremely eloquent Jesse Williams to discuss his newest passion, the launching of his spanking new production company, farWord Inc, which plans to focus on purposeful film, literary and academic pursuits. Jesse was very excited about the debut of farWord’s first project Question Bridge: Black Males at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
Jennice Fuentes: Jesse, you are a Chicago native who grew up in New Bedford, Massachusetts and who has lived a pretty interesting life; you were a teacher before you became an actor in network television (Grey’s Anatomy) and in film (the upcoming Joss Wheedon feature,The Cabin in the Woods), and now the man behind this new project. Why the name farWord for your new production company?
Jesse Williams: I kind of created it when I was at Temple University. I really kind of happened to me…I wanted to be productive and constantly push myself forward… The word Word…the one I give you and the written word is really what’s going to take you far. When I think of farWord, I think of the distance that you are hoping to go, the direction that you are hoping to go and the means by which you plan to carry your plan forward. Storytelling is based on the word, being an honorable person of integrity is based on your word.
JF: Tell me about the importance of education in your life.
JW: Since I was a public school teacher, I have a big background in education and it means a lot to me. My father is a teacher. My mother is a teacher. And they came to teaching after I was in high school. My mother was an artist and ceramicist. My father was a factory worker who put himself through Harvard while I was in high school.
JW: In a way yes. I started as a model. Went to NYC. Worked in a law firm for a year after being a teacher. Started going to little auditions and developing a little career. My parents always encouraged me and were used to me trying out wacky stuff. I’m very grateful and fully aware that 90 percent of actors are not working. Going from public school teacher to a show like Grey’s Anatomy, I love what I do…I’m very very happy, but I missed the work that I was doing in communities in need. This project is a perfect one to launch my production company using media for social good. And using any attention that I can get to forward it to a cause that is attention worthy…and has a real future.
JF: Your mother is white and you father is black. As a person of mixed race, do you feel represented in media today?
JW: I’ve had a million conversations with my friends of color… No, we don’t feel represented in media. We feel that there is a one way street of blackness in media. We are not homogenous…we are not all the same. One of the things that excite me most about this project is putting young men in a place where they can have a dialogue with their elders and have a resource, and some mentorship and a correspondence. Men are not used to talking…or admitting a mistake…or asking for directions…or taking care of a sports injury…we are stubborn beings. So getting young men, like the ones that I taught and like the one that I was, to sit down and ask a question because you are committing to sticking around for an answer. You become a participant in your future.
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