Meet Will Catlett. Actor, producer, creator. SBJCT spoke with Will about keeping the faith, creating, creating, creating, and why mentorship is what it’s all about. Read on below…
BY ERIN WALSH
FULL LOOK Death to Tennis
Erin Walsh Hello Will, good to have you joining our collective! Can you fill us in on how you grew up and what got you into the acting business in the first place?
Will Catlett I grew up in a small pocket in Alexandria, Virginia, called Del Ray. This was the place where I fell in love with basketball which was my first love although I was better in football. Quick story, back in elementary school I was hit one time by this guy name Charles Meadows who laid the wood on me. (The wood is a football term meaning a person has been hit extremely hard almost to death.) Charles hit me so hard, that it knocked the love of football out of me. I didn’t pick up the sport again until my senior year in High School. Thanks Charles, good on ya mate!
How did I get into the acting business? That’s a great question. I believe I’ve always been acting I just didn’t know it. I use to put on my auntie’s wigs and run around the house telling jokes. But it wasn’t until I came to California in pursuit of a basketball dream that lead me to the acting business. I met a guy who worked at Footlocker and he had the whitest teeth I’d ever seen. His teeth was so white that I asked him how did you get your teeth so white and what do you do? His reply was, Crest White Strips and I am an actor. I said, I always wanted to try that. He said, “take my number down and come with me to my acting class.” The rest is history! Oh, by the way, I picked up the Crest White Strips and it did wonders for my smile.
EW Who was most instrumental in guiding you as you began building your career?
WC I believe it was my travel to Brazil that really set the course for me. It wasn’t anything in particular, I just had time to think. At that time in my life I was a young actor just starting out and I was in the rat race or on the hamster wheel of trying to find my spotlight. Hell, I was just trying to get an audition. Then it dawned on me that I had to create my own lane. So, I jump into producing which lead to a few gigs in the web series space on YouTube. From there, the path became more clear to me, which is create create create.
EW Was there anyone in particular when you were starting out whose career you were trying to emulate? And if so, has that evolved over time?
WC Not really. I was just trying to be as good as the men and women in my acting class. Quin Walters, Robbie Jones, Ed Tillman and Richie Chance. They were the cream of the crop. I would say to myself, if I can get half as good as them, I can making in this business. Richie Chance, was also the acting coach along with his mother Bobbie Chance. He said something to me that changed me forever and I will always remember it. “Will, when your skill catches up with your talent you’re going to be great!” I just want to stop right here for a second. Just to encourage the person that is reading this. Don’t give up! You’re just in the phase where you’re building your skills and eventually your skills and your talent will lock hands. Keep the faith. It’s all happening right now!
EW Tell us about Charm City Kings and what that experience was like for you. Can you tell our readers a bit about the film and your Detective Rivers in particular?
WC Charm City Kings is a coming of age story that follows the journey of Mouse, a young man caught between his dream and his environment. Damn, just that statement alone makes me think of the two paths set before us. Some of us choose the dream and some choose the environment. The environment could be a dead end marriage and you’re staying just because of the kids. You can never love the contract more than the person. In Mouse’s case it’s the streets of Baltimore versus becoming a veterinarian.
Detective Rivers, the character I portray, is a mentor to Mouse and is aiming to steer him towards his dream and away from his environment, the streets, which have claimed the lives of so many of us who have fallen victim to her deadly bite. Hence, the term you are a product of your environment. Rivers’ goal is reverse the process. You’re a product of your mind and not your environment. If you can think it, then you can create it.
Mentorship is what it’s all about.
EW What do you hope we take from the film?
WC Well, there are many lessons in the film to chew on. My current hope is for Detective Rivers to live beyond the screen and into the hearts of our beloved police officers. When a seed of mentorship is planted into the hearts of our officers it will change the course of how they respond in the act of duty. When I was a young buck coming up I had officers who would take out the time to be a mentor to me in a moment. “I will let you go this time, but you shouldn’t be hanging around here. You’re a smart kid, dream bigger.” Just those words can last more than a lifetime. That is my hope. Not only for police officers but for anyone who is willing. Become a mentor and you will save a life.
EW This movie I think is pretty well timed to the earthquakes of change we are currently experiencing. What do you consider your role as an artist, as an actor, as a filmmaker to be?
WC I consider it to be a seed of change. A seed of love. A seed of the future. When you kill a man, you kill his future. That man could be carrying the cure for cancer.
EW What are some of your favorite ways to use that platform that you have to pay it forward?
WC To continue to be a mentor. Mentorship is what it’s all about. That is how you pay it forward. I just want to say this, a mentor doesn’t have to be someone you personally know. You can follow the example of someone you admire. How do you do that? Watch their videos, read their interviews, order their books. Whatever you can get your hands on take hold of it and never let it go.
FULL LOOK Death to Tennis
EW Can you tell us about Catlett Academy? I am SO into this…
WC Haha. It was something that I fought with. I didn’t want to start it when my wife mentioned the idea during COVID. I was thinking about a false notion that actors teach classes when they don’t have any money. However, when I felt the war inside of me I knew it was something that I am supposed to do. Something that I have to do.
I’ve gathered wisdom and experience in my over 10 years in pursuit of this craft. In my over ten thousand hours, as brother Malcolm Gladwell would say. I knew I could help people avoid some pitfalls and gain the knowledge into how to break into the industry. I wish I had this class when I was starting out, but now I do.
The Catlett Academy is coming from someone who still ascending. Which is great because my students and future student don’t feel like the person is so out of reach. I had to get use to my students calling me Coach Catlett. But I’m proud of them. We already have students who are now on T.V shows and in movies. It’s an amazing feeling and it makes me proud because they’re choosing the dream. There’s that word hiding in the shadows. MENTORSHIP!
EW What about Stonecutter’s Podcast? How did that come about and give us the 411…
WC A genius space engineer who works for Nike and a genius actor were friends way before they tapped into their genius-ness. Lol. All this is true by the way. Aaron is really a space engineer and Will is really an actor. We decide to let the public in our private conversation that helped him get to Nike and that helped me become a working actor. So we started a podcast to help people succeed.
It’s all about chipping away at your stone. The stone could be a harden heart from past hurt or limiting beliefs. Or the lack of knowing how to start the dream let alone go after the dream. We remind you that you are a stonecutter and it’s not the first hit that cracks the stone. It’s maybe the thousandth hit that does it. The key is to keep hitting the stone.
EW You have a gorgeous little one at home- how are you navigating this year and all its changed ways of work/ like/ home balance it has wrought?
WC I have an amazing wife. She is my balance and my better half. A man that finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. I pray that you receive your life partner if you haven’t already. Just say it and it’s done! Say it like you believe it. You shall have it. Now, go prepare yourself for the blessing.
EW What are some of the ways you stay sane in troubled times?
WC You have to remember all things work together for your good no matter how bad they may seem. Mourning may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. No matter how dark it may seem, call on joy. Joy, come into me and light this house on fire. Remember this statement. You will need it at some point in your life. You may need it right now! Just say it. “Joy, come into me and light this house on fire!” Also, have a good friend that will toss a log on your fire when it’s getting low.
he had the whitest teeth I’d ever seen
EW Currently reading?
WC The SEER by James W. Goll
EW What should we be watching in addition to CCK?
WC Lovecraft Country I am in Episode 9 and Black Lightning on Netflix. If you can find Love is__ watch that too. haha
EW What’s your SBJCT Will? What really moves and motivates you?
WC I have a unique gift to unlock people. I know what it feels like to be a hidden treasure chest at the bottom of the sea. I am motivated to pull you up and unlock your treasure chest. You are the light of the world, so shine. So that all may see.