Tray Williams: “Pioneers and Settlers will never mix well”

I wish someone would have told me how to do different auditions. Example: My video auditions were terrible in the beginning of my career. I didn’t know where to stand. I didn’t know that I needed great lighting or a certain type of background or anything. I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Tray Williams. […]

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I wish someone would have told me how to do different auditions.

Example: My video auditions were terrible in the beginning of my career. I didn’t know where to stand. I didn’t know that I needed great lighting or a certain type of background or anything.

I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Tray Williams. His fresh perspective and his storytelling skills offer a unique approach to film. His unique nature has caught the attention of many such as PUMA, Media Room 360 LLC, Tyler Perry and many. Tray Williams is an actor, writer, producer, director and filmmaker. As the CEO of The Pioneer Collective, LLC, he is a prolific content creator and curator of Black culture. The Houston native has been in more than 25 Hollywood projects from commercials to television and films, and has worked with some of Hollywood’s biggest names in the business. Mr. Williams also produced and developed “Trapped With The Prince Family”. This was YouTube’s first reality competition show starring youtubers biggest couples. In less than a week, “Trapped with The Prince Family” received over 17 MM views. Mr. Williams is currently working on over 20 new scripted and unscripted projects which feature Naturi Naughton, Super producer, J- White(Bodak Yellow, Weak (Flo- Milli, Muwop, Hit Girl Summer and more), James Lopez (President of Will Packer Productions), GQ legend and creative director Jim Moore just to name a few. Tray has also recently been selected and named President of the TV/film distribution for Media Room 360. This appointment will allow Tray to hand-select projects for distribution on Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, VOD, and all android devices. Tray’s work has also been seen on REVOLT & BET as he has produced multiple music videos which include: Lil Ronny “Up In The Air” national hit song in 2016 & Fat Pimp’s “Young Finesser”.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Well, I don’t remember a whole lot. Probably, because I’ve moved so much of my life. But, I know I was born in Houston. Shortly after I was born my biological mother pretty much let me live with my Aunt Liz whom I’ve never called aunt, she’s my mom. My biological mother had me very young like around 16. Then on top of that, she had my two older siblings before me, so I’m sure it was a lot on her. Living with them gave me normalcy and I felt like I belonged and they created my core foundation. I went to live with my grandmother Diane when I was about 12 years old. Up and till I was about 14 or 15. Then, I moved back to 5th Ward, an urban community with my biological mom until I was like 17. Which is where I am from.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Well, I was going to Jarvis Christian College and HBCU college on a basketball scholarship. Deep down I had wanted to be a model. For some reason, I thought I’d be the next Tyson Beckford. I had one big problem. I was scared to death to do things in front of people. So, I started performing at all the talent shows and greek festivities. It got to a point where I was being requested to perform all the time. I wrote and sang my own songs back in college. Fast forward, I end up transferring to Clarke for like a semester to play basketball. I was so burnt out that I decided to let it go.

So, one day I go to this modeling and casting call in Atlanta. I walk in for modeling. An actor by the name of Robert Crayton stops me and says hey you an actor. I jokingly said no I am not, but how much they pay I’ll try it though. We started laughing. He handed me some sides with a little bit of direction. He came back in 15 minutes and I killed it. From that day forward I never looked back. The craziest thing to me is I started getting network auditions like in my first month. I mean like lead role auditions. It is crazy, my first ever thing I made it to the finals for was Being Mary Jane’ I didn’t get the role but I made finals with no EXPERIENCE.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Most interesting thing would have to be filming with Tyler Perry. It wasn’t a huge role, but the way it happened was crazy. I took an extra role so that I could meet Tyler Perry. It’s about 1518 of us standing away from the set like in a line. He cuts for a break and we were all just standing there; he walked past me. I’m staring so I see he never looks directly at me. So, after everyone is back he gets ready to film again. All of a sudden he stops. He’s like a step out to an actor. Then he looks back up at where we were standing. He says I want him right there. So he’s pointing in our direction. I’m looking around acting lost, because I’m thinking he just can’t be talking to me. So when everyone figures out he ‘s talking to me the makeup artist runs up to me and shines me up. I walk down to the set. Things just start to move so fast that quick.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I don’t really remember a mistake I made honestly. I’m ultra scared of embarrassing myself. So, I’m going to have to get back to you on that one.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Most exciting projects I’m working on are the projects I have with my new Producing partner Tamra Simmons. Creator and EP of Surviving R. Kelly. We have like 10 projects already we’re working on. Most recent is a comedy feature film that Stars. Kwaylon Rogers. A huge iNSTAGRAM star he play’s TiTi. Then, most interesting and informative one would be me and Tamra’s Sex Trafficking Documentary were working on.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Diversity is a hugeeeeeee problem within the industry. The whole conversation is hard for me because I love everyone the same. No one got to choose what they are, in my eyes we are all human. We need each other to really create the best things that we can. It’s important in tv/ film because we need to show what real reality is. We need to create art that shows all races in a better light. Most people who can’t think for themselves use tv/film as their crash course to learning other cultures. Representation truly matters! This would affect our culture tremendously.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1. I wish someone would have taken the time to teach me the politics within the industry.

Example: No one told me that this business wasn’t all about talent. It is a favor based industry. A lot of talented people quit because they think they are not talented enough when that’s not the case.

2. I wish that someone would have just seen the ambition to learn this craft and take me under their wing.

Example: Like I wish I would have known like about acting classes and ways to find affordable tools to make me better.

3. I wish someone would have told me how to do different auditions.

Example: My video auditions were terrible in the beginning of my career. I didn’t know where to stand. I didn’t know that I needed great lighting or a certain type of background or anything.

4. I wish I knew that I shouldn’t use earrings in my headshots.

Example: When I filmed with Tyler Perry the first thing he said was take out your earrings. You ready? It showed me I had to stay ready to keep me from having to get ready.

5. I wish someone would help me teach my process. Like on how I dissect my scripts so that I don’t overthink things.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I would advise them to take it one day at a time. Don’t stress over the things you can’t control. It’s not always your talent it’s about realizing things happen the way it’s supposed to when you’re patient.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My idea would be to create a show where different races of people sit down and be able to have an open conversation. On things they’ve heard, seen and done. So, that we could really understand one another. Life is beautiful when there is understanding and common ground. My movements would bring everyone together.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Yes absolutely. I have several people like my brothers and sisters and select a few family members. But, the person who stands apart from the rest beyond life is my Mama Liz. She’s been to all of my most important moments my entire life. She’s like my angle in Human form. She’s invested in me and taught me that no one would invest in me until others saw me invest in myself. She even bought me my first director’s chair. She’s so amazing and I love her beyond life.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

This quote I have been sticking to and it’s even like my company’s moniker. “Pioneers and Settlers will never mix well, because pioneers always search for greatness, while settlers are always content”. It’s relevant, because in my everyday life I need to have like minded people to really thrive.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Ummm. I would have to say Keri Hilson. I met her one time and I absolutely couldn’t even look into her eyes. It’s like she was glowing. I think she’s probably going to be single until we have a conversation officially. I’m feeling like the rest would be history at that point haha. I see she likes chocolate men so you never know. I’ve been known to speak everything into existence so I don’t see why this would be any different.

How can our readers follow you online?

My Instagram is @1trayvonwilliams

Twitter is @1trayvonwilliam

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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