Texas Tech University

The Hustle Never Stops

Tom Laney

January 23, 2019

In his first year as a professional actor in Los Angeles, Kyle Williams has experienced tremendous growth.

Kyle Williams is a graduate of the Texas Tech BFA acting program and recently was cast in The Innocent Man, a Netflix original documentary based on the true crime novel by John Grisham.

"I definitely believe that my education at Tech has helped me get to where I am today," says Williams. "One thing I noticed from being at auditions and classes in LA is that the majority of the people I was going up against for a role had no formal educational training in acting. I have only come across a few people who actually have a degree in this field. This is an extremely comforting feeling for me! When I go into auditions, callbacks, or whatever it may be, I feel that I have something in my back pocket that is rare here."

That experience has served him well since he moved to Los Angeles a little over a year ago. After about a month of transition, he hit the ground running with auditions. In the first month, he was cast as the lead in an independent short film that premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Fest in 2018. That one production led to auditioning opportunities and things were starting to move.

"The auditioning process never stops; it's an ongoing hustle," said Williams.

But to hustle in the audition process is just one part of the job. The real work of research begins in earnest from the moment he is cast.

"Going into the process, I knew that I really wanted to try and build a rapport with everyone involved in the project, but I was especially focused on the creators (director, producers, A.D., director of photography). I did my homework on the director, Clay Tweel, and I noticed that almost all of his projects went to Netflix so I had my fingers crossed that this project would follow suit. I actually didn't get a verbal confirmation that it was going to be on Netflix until the fifth day of shooting. It was late at night and the stage manager finally spilled the beans to me. I don't think I slept that night."

Not that there was a lot of time for sleep. All of the filming locations for The Innocent Man were within a 30-mile radius of L.A. The night before a filming date, Williams would receive an email with all of that day's sides and an itinerary detailing the when and where of every location, including what he was eating. The process was intense but fun.

"On the second day of shooting, I had an awkward lunch encounter that turned into something special," said Williams. "I was late to lunch after finishing a scene that got pushed back. I looked like a deer in headlights trying to find a place to sit, so I jumped on the first open spot I saw. As it turned out, I sat down next to the director, executive producer, and two other major producers. Although it was an uncomfortable start to lunch, at least knew my name afterwards, so that was nice. A few weeks ago, I needed my original audition tape for the role, so I contacted the producers. Honestly, without that awkward encounter at lunch, I'm not sure if I would have gotten the audition tape at all. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to work on this project and rub shoulders with people who are making careers in the industry. I believe that building a relationship with these individuals is a first step. Build a genuine relationship and the rest will follow."

Kyle encourages current students to stay true to their artistic visons, pursue their degrees and take advantage of anything that provides real-world experience. "Stay true to yourself and let the work guide you."