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Lunch with the TV Lady
Tammy Williams, CEO of Open Rivers Pictures.
I parked in the parking lot at Houston's here in Atlanta to meet my lunch appointment and interviewee and I think to myself..."Why did I let Gil pick this place to do an interview?" Gil Robertson is one of the best PR people in the business but when it comes to lunch hour I just might have to question his "dining expertise". (Gil if you read this you know I still love you...smile) Houston's is a very popular restaurant here in ATL and during noon rush hour a person can wait for over 30 minutes just to get a table. I thought "I will be doing good to find my lunch interview let alone grab something to eat and conduct the interview before I have to rush back to work."
As I was walking into the place out of the corner of my eye I see a tall, and striking African-American young lady talking on her blackberry walking also to the place and I wonder if this is Tammy Williams. Nawww...I say to myself I could not be that lucky to walk in at the same time as my lunch interview and find her that quick in this packed place. Sure enough the hostess tells me it will be a 30 minute wait for a table and I find a place to sit. In the meantime the lady walks up to the hostess and asks if I have arrived so instantly I know that God is still on the throne...working things out. I say a quite thank you to the man upstairs. Not only did I find Williams right away but we both agreed that Houston's was too busy for us and went to another place to have lunch.
So over good food at Doc Green's, which if you have never been there I suggest you try it for they have the best soup and salads around, Williams and I talked about her desire to offer faith based television programming for the masses and how her production company Open River Pictures is poised to do just that. Warm and with a frankness that is refreshing Williams talked about her humble beginnings and just how she wants to use her company to find new talent and produce great television for years to come.
Williams started the company in 2003 and in these three short years she has built it up to be one of the top production companies in Atlanta. Producing such shows as the award winning Gospel Dream which is featured on the Gospel Music Channel and the soon to be release documentary of the life of Max Siegel, former president of Zomba/Verity Records, Open Rivers is a true passion for Williams.
While she has started a treck in film with the documentary, Williams states she is in no rush to take her company there. "You know I've been in television a long time and I just love the medium and the instantaneousness of it. So right now, TV is my main focus."
Williams got her start in television working as an intern at a CBS station in Nashville, Tennessee. She worked the early news show which meant she had to arrive at the studio by 3 a.m. every morning. Williams states that she is from the old school of thought that you do what it takes to make your dreams come true and if that means working for free for a while you do just that. "After my internship was over I still kept working, no pay or nothing but eventually when they had a job to open up I got it and I started as a video tape editor for the news."
Williams says that when a person wants to break into the television business they need to understand what it is that they want to do and work hard at it. She adds that it's important to know what type of person you are if you are creative she suggests that you may want to focus behind the camera. If you are a person that loves to be the center of attention she suggests you think about stepping out in front of the camera. "The main thing is to understand the business. If you want to be out in front of the camera you still need to know what goes on behind the camera to really do the job. You just need to work towards being where you really fit in." she adds.
She states that what she looks for in a potential candidate for her company is a hunger for the business. She is ready to train anybody about the business as long as they are hungry for it. "If I say to them you know what you're not gonna get a dime for this but will you still be willing to come? If they say no then my question is how bad you want this? Time is money and if I'm going to train you that is the same as getting money. If you want to be an editor, I will train you. If you want to be a producer I will train you, but you've got to really want it."
A hunger and passion for providing the best television programming seems to be the drive for Tammy Williams. She is currently developing several new shows for the Gospel Music Channel including Hype and Glory, a hip-hop gospel themed show featuring T-Bone as the host. Yes I believe that if she keeps on her current journey Tammy Williams will be really "full" real soon.
To learn more about Tammy Williams visit www.openriverspictures.com
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