On today’s episode of Diversity Be Like, host Sequoia Houston talks to writer-producer Kim Williams about being “given a seat at the table,” why she decided to create her own work, and her fight for representation as a Generation X Black woman in Hollywood.
About Our Guest
Kim Williams has worked over 20 years in the television and film industry in Post Production and TV Development. After graduating from the University of North Texas with a degree in Radio-TV-Film, she began her career in Post Production working on several TV projects before transitioning to the creative side in TV Development. She is the founder of inkSpot Entertainment, the Wander Experience and lifestyle brand, genKati.
3 Key Points
- Diversity is not just allowing people to sit in the room but giving them actual decision-making power so that things can actually change.
- Creating your own table is better than begging for a seat at “the” table.
- Kim prefers to refer to herself as Black rather than a person of color or African American because she believes in a global Black experience and wants to create work for all Black people.
- Kim describes diversity as everyone having a seat at the table, and not at the side table.
- Kim published a book called 40 Hours and an Unwritten Rule in 2004 that she then turned into a webseries called the Unwritten Rules in 2012.
- She was motivated to write this because of her experiences as a Black woman working in entertainment where she would often be the only Black person in the room.
- Sequoia mentions being part of an affinity group where the few Black people who worked for the company got together and talked about their experiences.
- Kim’s experiences with affinity groups haven’t resulted in any tangible outcomes because the people with the power to make changes were not in the room.
- Sequoia says that she was treated differently at her first job depending upon how she wore her hair.
- Kim says that she has learned to value her time, and if she’s not getting anything out of a professional commitment like a panel or conference, she doesn’t do it anymore.
- The success of the webseries of Unwritten Rules is what motivated Kim to start inkSpot and help Black creators from all over the world tell their own stories.
- Kim is currently writing a piece that is shooting in South Africa, and she plans to bring in a South African writer to assist her in order to ensure that there is an authentic voice on the project.
- She recently moved to Johannesburg in part because of the desire to have a truly collaborative creative community.
- Kim believes in creating your own table over begging for a seat at “the” table.
- Sequoia mentions that even people like Ben Stiller are creating their own production companies in order to get the roles they want and make the things they want to make.
- When she worked for a studio, Kim was very aware of what was being written and produced, but now that she makes her own work she just writes what she wants to write.
- When Kim launched her second webseries on Youtube, Everything I Did Wrong in My 20s, she didn’t even know how to check analytics on the platform. When she did, she was surprised to learn that her audience was primarily composed of millennials.
- She is launching a platform called genKati this year that is focused on creating content specifically for Black Gen X women.
- Kim says that her experience as a middle class Black woman is not represented by a lot of the material created by or featuring Black people.
- Kim says that hiring Black people in lower level positions like PAs that don’t have any decision making power isn’t real diversity.
- Kim wants to leave behind a legacy of being a Black creator who made space for authentic Black voices.
- She prefers to refer to herself as Black rather than a person of color or African American because she believes in a global Black experience and wants to create work for all Black people.
- Kim mentions that her newest brand is called the Wander Experience that creates travel experiences for Black people to visit Black communities around the world, primarily in Africa.
“Until people who are in the position to make change…nothing comes out of it because no one is attending who can actually affect change.” – Kim Williams
“America is an ‘I’ culture.” – Kim Williams
“My work is just an extension of me and wanting my voice to be heard.” – Kim Williams
“Generation X Black women are always forced to fit into a millennial Black woman’s space, and it’s like, what about a space for us?” – Kim Williams
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