Part One of an Interview with Angela Williams, Author of "My Child is Going to Be Rich and Famous"
Angela Williams has known success in the entertainment industry as a singer/songwriter, producer, and author, but she’s most proud of her role as devoted mother to three talented sons (Tyler James, Tyrel Jackson, and Tylen Jacob), each of whom have successful careers in show business. They’d be the first to agree that much of their success is due to their mother’s hard work behind the scenes, efforts that inspired her to write My Child is Going to Be Rich and Famous as a guide to budding young actors and the families that support them.
In Part One of our interview with Angela, she recounts her boys’ early successes and how different perspectives helped to define them.
OLE: What motivated you to write your book?
AW: My family is from New York. That's where my sons Tyler James, Tyrel Jackson and Tylen Jacob started working and booking many national commercials and print campaigns. My oldest son Tyler James (now 23) became a working actor at the age of 4-years-old starting on Sesame Street then going on to do skits on Saturday Night Live, Conan O'Brian, joining the cast of Little Bill, landing guest starring roles on "Law and Order" and the like. Tyrel Jackson (now 18) began at 18 months old landing several national spots for Verizon and Glad and ending up on "Sesame Street," "Blues Clues," the "Backyardigans” and the bookings continued. Tylen Jacob (now 14) got his start at 3-months-old landing on “Sesame Street” as well, then other national commercials, PSAs and guest starring roles.
Because my sons worked so often, while at auditions, parents would reach out to me to gain insight, advice or help. They would often ask, "My child is going to be rich and famous one day, can you help me?" After hearing that statement a few times, I decided to make a mental note of it. Parents quickly learned that I didn't mind sharing information so I became one of the "go to" parents. When we relocated to California 10 years ago because my oldest son booked the television show "Everybody Hates Chris," I immediately became a source of insight for parents who wanted for their child what the parents on the East Coast wanted. I continued to get the same question, "My child is going to be rich and famous one day, can you help me?" After a while I found myself saying things like, "I have so much experience in the industry from the East Coast to the West coast. I'm going to write a book so I can help more than one parent at a time."
OLE: How is your book different from others on the market that deal with the subject of children in show business?
AW: I have spent more than 40 years in the entertainment industry. I have been a singer/songwriter/performer (in the gospel/R&B/Pop arenas) since the age of about 10. I currently have 3 successful sons who are working in Show Business and I have been in the industry with them for 19 years. Between the music world and the television and movie world I have seen just about everything the entertainment industry has to offer.
As a result, my book focuses on the health, success and strength of the child, parent, adult performer and the family along with the health, success and strength of the child's/adult's resume and career in the entertainment industry. I have seen and experienced many tragic stories for more than 30 years involving parents, kids, performers and families and I want to do my part to help as many families as I can find their best course of action in this wonderful and creative business.
I am a life coach and mentor to many artists, performers and couples in the industry. I am a minister and I also have business and psychology degrees, so my book serves as a professional safely net and a mental/spiritual/personal health guide to help parents, families, kids and adult actors navigate in and out of the world of entertainment as they pursue their dreams. My book is more of a comical, sobering and insightful "life coaching" book full of tools, warnings, examples, advice, information, and challenging techniques for those in industry related arenas like sports, art, theater, music, television, films, etc.
My book is different because I interviewed 22 industry insiders to help me help parents and others make better decisions. I conducted candid, thought provoking and surprising "Q & As" with:
- Cindy Osbrink (Osbrink Agency)
- Tia Mowry (Sister Sister)
- Mary McCusker (Acting Coach for Television and Film)
- Victor Gonzalez (Director for Nickelodeon/Disney)
- Tyler James Williams ("Everybody Hates Chris", "The Waking Dead" & "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders)
- Tyrel Jackson Williams ("Failure to Launch" & "Lab Rats")
- Tylen Jacob Williams ("Instant Mom")
- Jurnee Smollett-Bell ("Eve's Bayou," "The Great Debaters," "True Blood," & "Underground)
- Nancy Flint: Studio Teacher/Welfare Worker
- Michelle Cole (Costume Designer for "In Living Color", "Instant Mom" & "Blackish")
- Kokeeta Douglas (Celebrity Make-Up Artist)
- Dawnn Lewis: (Producer, Grammy Award Winner, Actress, Singer/SongWriter)
- Vickie Thomas: (Casting Director for "Ride Along", "42", "Straight Outta Compton")
- Tina Polini: (Craft Service Key)
- Sarah Jackson: (Manager/Seven Summits Pictures)
- Octavius Reid III: (Morgan Stanley Sports and Entertainment Director/Wealth Advisor)
- Paul Smith: (Celebrity Photographer)
- Beth Bogush: (Producer/Choreographer/Master Teacher of Dance)
- Jerry Levine: (Director/Producer/Actor)
- Derek Stewart: Industry Dad to (Coy Stewart: "Are We There Yet" & "Bella and the Bulldogs")
- Kelly Park: Acting Coach and Industry Mom to (Sydney Park: "Instant Mom," & "One Crazy Cruise")
- YOUR very own Karin Farrell: (VP of On Location Education)
OLE: Do you welcome the many different points of view of child performers and their perspectives on the world of entertainment, or do you feel that other authors do not "get" the basic tenets of the industry?
AW: Different perspectives are a good thing because everyone's journey is going to be different. I welcome positive, honest and helpful view points that promote beneficial and lasting remedies. I believe everyone can learn for someone's experience so I would imagine every author would have some form of insight to share.
OLE: How should parents define "success" for their children? Is it booking the job? Is it getting a "call back"? Is it the intermingling with adult celebrities?
AW: It all depends on what the end goal was/is. For some parents, success is about everything you mentioned and more. For me, however, the definition of success is determining by the mental, emotional and professional state of the child. Simply put, is the child happy? Is the child fulfilled? Is the child grounded? Is the child balanced in life? Does the child feel purposeful? Is the child's self-esteem in tact? Does the child have a healthy life outside of the industry? Does the child have solid, safe and supportive relationships? It makes no sense for the child to book the job, get the call back or hang out with celebrities if the answers to my previous questions are, no.
OLE: What's one thing about the entertainment industry that you'd change as it concerns the kids, if you could?
AW: I'd create more safeguards to help the children as they evolve.
In the conclusion of our interview with Angela, she’ll share her views on the essential elements of strong support systems for child actors and how outside organizations can contribute to their success. Until then, learn more about her book on Amazon or visit her website at www.angelajwilliams.com.
I made mistakes in drama. I thought drama was when actors cried. But drama is when the audience cries. ~ Frank Capra