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BET's "The Black Hamptons, "Actor William L. Johnson, Like Marvin Gaye, Talks About What Going On!

Updated: May 11

William L. Johnson is a multi-talented actor, musician, and all-around superstar! He is an incredible guy on and off camera! I found him to be gracious and kind. He has an excellent understanding of life and what it means to be a fantastic father. I had the pleasure of chatting it up with this BET "The Black Hamptons" star, and he shared many things about his life in and out of the spotlight. Our conversation is summarized below.

Good afternoon, William. I'm excited about our interview today. Thank you for your time. Thank you for having me.

Thank you very much; it is my pleasure. I want to ask you, from morning to evening, how would you describe your typical day? My boys are in my custody 50% of the time. So, when I am with them, I wake them up, help them prepare for school, pick them up from school, and assist them with their homework. My oldest son plays soccer, so I attend his practice every Wednesday and games every Saturday.

On those days when they are not with me, I wake up in the morning, look at the stocks, and do a bit of trading.

Because I coach actors, they often hit me up on Zoom in the morning to go over their lines—stuff like that. Each day is different. I will say; I work hard every day to get that money.

How do you enjoy spending time with your sons? What are some of your favorite activities? We do a lot of fun activities together, like playing games. We have game night every Friday. My kids used to play Uno, but now that I've taught them how to play spades, we play that instead. On Saturdays, after the game, we all go out to eat. There are even times when we go to the beach. There's always something going on. I enjoy spending time with them and having fun.

While the boys and I enjoy playing games and visiting different arcades, I also stress the importance of reading. Therefore, make them read a lot.

Because the schools are no longer teaching them anything or making the students write, I play the role of their teacher. While they are with me, I not only teach them to write, but I also educate them about black history. I love teaching them.

Seeing them grow into fine young men with good heads on their shoulders makes me feel proud.

Dads are special indeed. Thank you for sharing. What are some of your fondest memories of your sons when they were younger? Oh man, just watching them grow up. Spending time with my sons throughout their lives has been a pleasure. Every moment I have shared with them has been memorable. Listening to what they have to say is also an enjoyable experience for me. I always give them my undivided attention when they have things to say.

Do you guys play basketball together? Yeah, I love tearing them up on the court! I told them they'd never beat me at basketball. (laughs)

I love that! You're a fantastic dad, and they are blessed to have you! Do you have any advice for single-parent moms raising boys? If possible, I would suggest letting their father raise them, especially today. Boys need to spend time with their fathers to learn what is appropriate and what is not. Not only can a father inspire his son to emulate his good behavior, but he can also warn him of the dangers of immolating his negative habits.

That is the problem with our society today. Many women raising young boys today are raising them to be soft. To become men, they need their fathers to be in their lives. We live in a very different world than we used to.

I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this matter. Despite being a single parent mom for most of my son's life, the father's role is crucial. Although I didn't have the option of having his father in his life, if I had, I would not have blocked that opportunity. The importance of both parents in the lives of young men and women cannot be overstated. This is so imperative for maintaining a healthy balance in their lives. Inherently, men can teach young men things that women cannot, and women can teach young women things that men cannot. In today's world, the family structure is crumbling. Several factors contribute to poverty, gang violence, and waywardness in today's world, including the breakdown of the family. I appreciate your commitment to raising your sons to be incredible young men who can positively contribute to the world in the future. William, as a father, what wisdom have your parents imparted to you that you now pass on to your children? Everybody that smiles in your face isn't your friend. They hear that from me all the time. No matter who you are, do not trust anyone. Understanding this is important, and they seem to be getting it.

One day, my eldest son said, "Daddy, you told me about this, and it happened. You were right." I responded, "Yes, I know I was right because people say one thing in front of you and another behind your back." You can't use the word friend loosely.

When dealing with people in this world, extreme caution must be exercised. Children have a hard time processing deception. It used to be that I believed everyone was my friend until I got older and realized how dangerous it could be to trust someone until they've proven themselves trustworthy.

What is your approach to balancing fatherhood and your career? It just blends in. Whenever I'm working and need their mother to pick them up, she'll do it. Also, I have close friends who can pick them up for me when she's unable to do so. Therefore, it works out well.

On occasion, I will bring them to the set with me. This is something they enjoy. My diligent work has allowed them to see what it takes to succeed in this world, which is good because my sons are right there with me. They see the struggle. The three of us are riding this rollercoaster together.

It's important to let our children see the reality of life and not shield them from it because one day, they'll have to live their own lives. William, you use the talents God has blessed you with by sharing them with many people through film, TV, music, and other activities. In other words, you are constantly investing in the lives of others, including your children. Tell me, what do you do for me time? I enjoy going to the movies. I love watching a good movie or interesting program on TV. I also like to sit down, relax and chill.

I enjoy spending time in the kitchen cooking for myself and my children. Cooking is one of the things that relaxes me. I’m also getting into gardening. In front of my home, I have a bell pepper plant, so I'm planning to start growing vegetables. As a starting point, I will try this bell pepper and see how it works out. (laughs).

That's fantastic! As a gift to my husband, I bought him an in-home pepper growing kit. Unfortunately, they died as soon as he planted them. The weather in the UK is cold and rainy, so growing vegetation is complex, but we gave it our best effort. You will likely have much more success than we did, as the weather where you live is much more conducive to healthy plant growth. I'm sure your sons will also enjoy the process of development. Do you make time to spend with friends? Yes, sometimes I invite a few friends over if they're available on Sunday, and we'll play chess.

William, what do you want people to know about you that no one has ever asked? Although I consider myself a private person in many aspects of my life, I am happy to share that I enjoy my work as an entertainment professional. I enjoy doing projects and films that people are excited about.

Sometimes, people approach me to express how deeply my performance in a particular film moved them. I enjoy hearing that because I like making films that people enjoy watching. I do it for them.

I think it's beautiful that you understand that the talent God gave you was given to bless others. It all comes from a love for what you do and your fans. As we're talking about love, what do you think is the most powerful expression of it? Love is best expressed by being selfless and generous. Giving time is also important.

Awesome. What goes through your mind when the world is still, and what are ways that you maintain a peaceful mind? I am up at 4:00 am every day to monitor the stock market. I will either make a trade or not, depending on what I see. I am at the gym working out around 5:30/6:00 am. A group of people and I work out together.

Keeping a healthy balance is essential. Being active is the key to maintaining a sane mind. My peace of mind is maintained in this manner. Moreover, I avoid staying up late or going to unnecessary places.

Very wise indeed. What new skill (s) have you acquired in 2022? This year, I have acquired many new skills online. There are many great investment apps, like Think or Swim. We're in a time where if you get in now, you'll have some dough (cash) in a couple of years. I have E*Trade accounts as well. I have quite a few of them. This is going to make me millions. I've even attended numerous money shows, and I follow a lot of YouTubers. I receive advice regarding cryptocurrency. Because that's the future, I'm messing with it all. There is no way around it.

What is one of the most valuable lessons you've learned this year? This year has been a learning experience about money. I've learned to be smart with money and how to make my money work for me instead of working for it.

That's the path I'm on. Learning about the stock market and trading has been a major thing for me this year. As a matter of fact, I'm looking at charts now. (laughs) I was winning earlier today. I'm becoming good at it. That's been my focus this year.

That's awesome! It was nice to see a glimpse into your personal life as it is now. Let's talk about your formative years. Growing up, what was it like for you? My hometown is Gary, Indiana, and I attended a performing arts high school. There, I could focus on my craft, music, and arts. After leaving Gary, Indiana, I moved to Chicago, Illinois, and rented my own apartment at 18. After graduating, I attended a trade school where I studied cosmetology. I did hair for almost 15 years before moving to Los Angeles. Having the opportunity to be out on my own so young was a great experience for me. That made me feel good.

Additionally, I performed in theater plays and sang in a group.

What was the group's name? Our group was called "Back to Black." I always kept active.

You mentioned that you were a hairstylist. Which hairstyle did you enjoy doing the most on your clients? Did you do Jheri curls, scrunches, and finger waves? Initially, I worked as an assistant at this guy's salon and was required to do curls regularly. I hated it! (laughs)

Wow, that's funny! You're right; I get why you feel that way about the Jheri Curl. The smell was awful! (laughs) Yeah, I agree. I didn't like the Jheri Curl's chemical smell either.

Nonetheless, I developed a high level of expertise in the area of long hair. My blow-drying skills became outstanding because many of my clients had naturally long hair. Additionally, my shampooing skills were highly regarded by my clients.

That is fantastic! Many women enjoy a good shampoo from a man because they have strong hands, and if they are skilled at washing their hair, they will appreciate it even more! Earlier, you mentioned that you were involved in theatre and acting. What first drew you to acting, and when did you become involved? Since I was a child, acting, singing, and playing instruments have always been my passions. Throughout my life, entertainment has fascinated me, and I never remember not being engaged in it.

Creativity is a passion that many people say is born in the womb. You don't have to force yourself into liking your job as you do with other jobs. Creativity is innate in creative people. Just like your own body, it's as natural as you are. As an actor, when did your career begin to develop? I landed a leading role in a film only a year after I arrived in LA. Before that, I did a lot of extra work. It was my consistent and unrelenting effort that made the difference.

My perseverance led to the recognition of my talent. I began to be offered roles in several films. Even today, I am a cast member on BET's "The Black Hamptons."

And you're acting impressive in "The Black Hamptons!" Thank you. Yeah, it's out and performing exceptionally well on BET. Therefore, my schedule is quite full. Work keeps me busy.

When you left the Midwest to pursue your career in California, what motivated you? It was clear to me when I was 16 that I would return to Los Angeles after visiting my uncle there. Moving forward, I did exactly that: I moved to Los Angeles.

Here's the backstory. One day, while styling the big wig for "Soft Sheen's" hair, I heard her on the phone saying they needed merchandisers for a product line called Mizani in LA. As soon as she released the phone, I responded, "I'll go," she agreed, and that's how I ended up moving to LA and becoming a working member of the Soft Sheen team in LA.

That's incredible! What an exciting backstory! I find it so interesting how our lives take on unexpected turns and how God has a plan for each one of us. All these factors work together to set us up for other doors to open in our lives. I liken it to building blocks stacked one upon another. As an actor, what roles do you typically find yourself drawn to, and what kinds of roles would you like to consider as a future challenge? For me, every character I portray must have a distinct personality. My favorite characters are those that take me outside of myself and captivate the audience. My dream role would be to portray the life of Marvin Gaye in a film. My previous portrayal of him was in a play, but to play him on the big screen would be the ultimate accomplishment. After that, I could retire.

Considering how closely you resemble Marvin Gaye and how talented you are, you would make an excellent choice to portray his life. I could not think of anyone better suited for that role than you. Right on. Thank you.

My pleasure. Tell me about your role in the Black Hamptons and what you like and dislike about the character you portray. I play the lead character, Lamman Rucker’s best friend, Michael Donovan. What I love about this show is that everyone black on the screen has money. Rarely do we see something like that. The world needs to see wealthy, affluent black people making decisions and dealing with problems related to their wealth. Currently, not enough programs portray black people in this manner.

Also, I enjoy working with the director, Trey Haley, and producers, ND Brown and Carl Weber. Carl Weber is a hoot! He's lots of fun. On the show, my character, Michael Donovan, has a daughter, so I asked him if he had a wife. He said, "we don't know," so I suggested that maybe my character should not have a wife and that he should be like a cool sugar daddy who teaches these young cats "game." (laughs)

I asked him to let me be the sugar daddy of the show, but I don’t know if that will happen. (Laughs) But the show is doing extremely well, and the reviews are positive. People want more.

I've been hearing positive things about what's to come, so it's a strong possibility that it will get picked up. We need it, people enjoyed it, and it's only going to get even crazier. It can only go up from here.

What similarities do you see between Michael Donovan's character and your own? He's a lot of fun and laughs. There are a lot of moments when I make fun of a particular situation. Because I am quite humorous also, his character allows me to demonstrate my funny side.

Are there any television series you are interested in and would like to be a part of? Also, do you have any directors or producers you would like to work with in the future? Gina Prince-Bythewood, the woman who directed the woman king, I would love to work with her one day.

That would be a perfect pairing. Would you be interested in joining the cast of Black Panther? Heck yeah! Big time! I would love that!

You would be excellent in the third installment of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. It would be interesting to see you play the brother of Black Panther. I would love to see that happen for you! I think T’ Chella should have a long-lost brother come on the scene. That's something I never considered, playing a superhero. That would be a fun experience.

What untold story needs to be told? The story about “Hannibal,” the African king who took over Rome for seven years. They need to do that right. Someone should tell that story, especially since they have The Woman King.

I completely agree. That sounds like an excellent idea for a historical film. Having the opportunity to learn about him and the historical events that took place at that time would be interesting. Do you have any new film or television projects in the works for 2023? Yes, of course. Be on the lookout for upcoming films such as "The Kings of LA," "A Fighters Love," and others. Of course, there's the Black Hamptons, and I have something new on Amazon Prime called "Bernie Problems." The last five projects are current, but anyone wanting to learn more about my collective work can visit my IMDb page. I've been cast in so many movies that it's hard to recall them all.

Additionally, I am an executive producer of a couple of shows that are close to being financed. I'm involved in a lot of projects.

Let's talk about your musical talents. Do you have any upcoming musical projects? Are you currently working on any new music? Presently, I am in the process of writing a song. My guitar player and I have been practicing. Tomorrow is our rehearsal day. Ultimately, I'd like to put some live recordings on video using a small band. One of my songs that's almost completed is called Change. I recently shot a video for it. When it is complete, I would love to send it to you.

Thank you! That would be awesome! I'd like to know more about it. I think it's a great song about the current state of the world. Our world needs songs about how we can make a better place and make a difference. My thoughts have been focused on that direction.

That's right, and wasn't that what the singers did in the 1970s? In the 1970s, many notable singers, including Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Curtis Mayfield, and many more. As events of the time changed, so did their messages. The songs they sang were all about civil rights and black liberation. Yeah, that's it. Again, we find ourselves in the same situation. The situation does not appear to be improving. Overall, things need to be changed. Things are getting crazier.

Who is your favorite musical artist? I am a big fan of Marvin Gaye and his albums "What's Going On" and "Here, My Dear." These are two excellent recordings. My two favorite bands from the 70s are Lakeside and Earth Wind and Fire. I love the big band sound.

Yes, I agree! They're both amazing! I want that kind of music to come back. Funny you say that because I just came up with a one-man show about the history of R&B and how different singers inspired a generation of men. Growing up, we listened to Teddy Pendergrass, Luther Vandross, and Peabo Bryson. These men sang real love songs.

Historically, brothers sang about love. When we stopped making love songs, rap came in. Now, you only hear a few love songs.

Right. We were the kings of R&B music and love songs. Think about it. All the love songs sung by these men were hits. Luther Vandross, Rick James, and Gerald Levert all had hits. That's what we grew up listening to.

R&B/ Soul music, as we knew it, has been silverly altered and has become unrecognizable from its original intent. That was on purpose.

It is bad news for the R&B/Soul scene, but the good news is that you are incredibly talented and have a lot of opportunities ahead of you! Currently, you are working on brand-new music, and several fantastic films and television dramas are in the works; the rest are awaiting their release. You are also a very talented musician. I would like to know more about that. I also enjoy playing keys and drums, and playing bass. There is even a drum I painted, which I intend to use for performance.

Awesome! Yeah! I like to put on a show for my audience when I perform live.

I can't wait to see that! I know your show will be powerful! Martin Luther King said, “I have a dream.” If you were to complete that sentence, what would you say? I have a dream to help influence the world to become a much better place.

What beautiful words of wisdom! What would you like to say to inspire our independent community who are still trying to figure out what the entertainment industry is all about? It is important to believe in yourself. It is important to be realistic about your dreams and develop a comprehensive action plan to achieve them.

That is very well said! I pray that God will bless your life and the works of your hands will be done in accordance with His will. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time in our world's history. I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you, and I'm so proud of all you've accomplished. You get a standing ovation from me! Right on! I appreciate you.

Thank you so much! God bless you, and thank you again. Not a problem.

Bye now. Bye.

William L. Johnson - IMDb

All photos are courtesy of William L. Johnson

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