FROM THE BACK ROW: Catching Up with Michael Williams

Posted on September 20th, 2012

Hey DSM Fans!

I finally had the pleasure of officially meeting DSM’s Michael Williams!  After being crowned Best Actor at DSM’s High School Musical Theatre Awards, Michael flew off to New York City to follow his dreams of becoming a big Broadway star.  Between competing at the Jimmy™ Awards and training at CAP21, Michael found some time to come back to Texas and he was kind enough to stop by the Music Hall at Fair Park to give me an update on his summer in the city!

Michael Williams and Haley

* * *

Haley: So how does it feel to be DSM’s very first Best Actor?

Michael: I’m very lucky and blessed to have this “title.” It’s also a lot of responsibility. But to be the first… it’s very special.

H: What did you like about competing in DSM’s High School Musical Theatre Awards?

M: I love working with kids who share my goals. I love the camaraderie.  When putting something together in such a short amount of time: if the quality of the outcome is great it’s because everybody wants it to be great.

H: When did you find out you were nominated for Best Actor?

M: It was early in the morning when they announced it on TV. We had a 5am watch party, with a nice bowl-o-oatmeal. Then my face flashed on the screen. Of course with DVR we had to pause it to take a picture… you know, for a new Facebook cover photo [laughing]…

H: And what was it like to win?!

M: It was surreal. That’s the best word for it. But also, there was so much support from all of the other nominees.  There was never a feeling of harsh competition, everyone really supported each other.

H: This award qualified you to compete on a national level at the Jimmy™ Awards in New York City!  What was it like to work with kids from all across the country?

M: Well when we first got there we had a big get-together with everyone. I was nervous, everyone was.  Everyone was walking in kind of… carefully.  BUT, being musical theatre kids, it didn’t take us long to make friends!  You warm up to everyone really quickly.

H: Did you get to work with anyone special?

M: I got to work with Leslie Odom from SMASH! I also met Christian Borle who plays Tom on SMASH.  That was really cool.  What I love most about that is how the Broadway community supports high-schoolers.  For us, it really validates what we’re doing in our art, to have support from people like Christian and Leslie.

H: What was it like to perform on Broadway at the Minskoff Theatre?

M: Stepping on a Broadway stage was……… there was magic, energy, everyone was taking pictures. It was like stepping on to our future. It was amazing.  It was also reassuring- it made me think, “I’m gonna be back here.”

H: I read in your daily blog, ALL IN A DAY’S WORK, that you met some fellow Texans…

M: Yes! I met some nominees from the other high school musical award shows in Texas. Texas was heavily represented at the Jimmys™.  We all sat together at lunch, you know, it’s that Texas bond.

H: Did you face any challenges or overcome any personal obstacles that week?

M: Hmm… Well, in my solo coaching room I sang “Go the Distance” from Disney’s Hercules. Yeah I sang, and everything was great, but on the final day of coaching Leslie Odom just pulled something out of me, and – I hate to say it but – I cried. The song really says everything I was experiencing.

Michael then sang me a few of the lines he was referring to:

“I will find my way / I can go the distance / I’ll be there someday / If I can be strong / I know every mile / will be worth my while” …It was a really big moment for me that week.

H: What was the most important thing you learned from your National HSMTA experience?

M: Overall, you learn how to work with different people. You already know the types of people you can and can’t work well with, but through this process, you really learn HOW to make it work with anybody.

H: I heard you stayed in NYC after the Jimmys™ – what were you up to?

M: After I finished with the Jimmys™ I went RIGHT into the summer intensive musical theater program at CAP21.  It was every day, 10am to 6pm, Monday through Friday, working on dance, acting, singing, performing- it was intense and it was difficult, but the program made me such a better performer. I learned SO much in those 6 weeks. Now, I’m probably going to do their industry practicum.  It’s a semester long and at the very end we put together a showcase where we perform in front of industry people- managers, agents. It is a great opportunity because in New York, it’s REALLY competitive.  Just to get an agent you have to be top notch.

H: Any college plans?

M: There’s a full two-year program at CAP21, but honestly I’m ready to work!  I’m living in New York, I’m gonna make something happen.

H: If acting wasn’t an option, what would you do instead?

M: I would be a music engineer.  I love recording and mixing and all that stuff.  I do… of course a lot of musical theater stuff, but I also like the slower blues, jazz kind of stuff.

H: Any special hobbies or personal favorites we should know about?

M: I have a morning ritual: Iced coffee and a cinnamon-raisin bagel with strawberry cream cheese. Every morning.

H: What’s your dream role?

M: I’d love to play Elder Price in THE BOOK OF MORMON.

H: Now that you’ve made it through high school and you’re pursuing your dreams, what advice would you give someone looking to follow in your footsteps?

M: Be really nice to everyone.  Treat everyone with equal respect and kindness, because it will be a major advantage in the end.  Believe in yourself. Always commit to what you’re doing, whether it’s one role or your life-long dream. And always be honest.

* * *

A huge thanks to Michael Williams!  He is a kind young man with a great head on his shoulders and a promising future ahead of him, so remember his name. He will be onstage pining for “Orlandoooo” in an Elder Price nametag before we know it!

-DSM Haley