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Interview: Bill Duke and GregAlan Williams Talk to about ‘Created Equal’



‘Created Equal’ is a legal thriller from legendary director Bill Duke based on a novel of the same name written by Roger A. Brown. The movie Premier on June 15, 2017 at American Black Film Festival in Miami, FL. It stars Broadway actor and singer Aaron Tveit, actress Edy Ganem, Yohance Myles, and award-winning legends Lou Diamond Phillips and GregAlan Williams.

When cast in any role Williams is known for giving his all, making the characters compelling and believable; from Garner Ellerbee on ‘Baywatch’ to Coach Doc Hines in ‘Remember The Titans’, from Judge Warren Libby on ‘Drop Dead Diva’ to Robert McCready on ‘Greenleaf’.

Duke’s been a standout as an actor with memorable turns in such classics as ‘Menace II Society’, ‘Predator’ and ‘Bird on a Wire’. When seated in the director’s chair he’s helmed such all-time greats as episodes of TV shows ‘Dallas’ and ‘Hill Street Blues’, films ‘Deep Cover’ and ‘Sister Act 2’, and the riveting documentary ‘Little Girls’. caught up with both Bill Duke and GregAlan Williams for an afternoon conversation. After the two acclaimed men shared lunch and laughs together, they spent a little time telling us about working on ‘Created Equal’ and more. Enjoy! Mr. Duke, how has creating documentaries affected how you create fiction?

Bill Duke: Storytelling wise it’s a powerful art form. With documentaries you can really tell the truth. And you choose people to interview for the reenactments that tell the truth at that particular time. It brings you very, very close to the people you’re talking about. Doing documentaries has helped me with getting to the humanity. I know people will disagree with me, but I love the show ‘Dexter’. This guy’s a serial killer…and you care about him! What are you wanting audiences to care about as they walk away after seeing ‘Created Equal’?

Bill Duke: Well, it gave a perspective that it is equal in the sense of the church position and also in terms of wanting to become a priest. We don’t judge. We show both sides of the issue and let the audience make up their own mind. I hope they go away with an insightful understanding of what the struggle is that they’ll benefit from.

GregAlan Williams: I know that the audience will go away with a deeper understanding of the aspirations of women in the Catholic community, and awareness of that struggle that women in the Catholic Church, and often in the church in general, go through. And it’s an ongoing struggle. I think that’s so very important as we learn about each other, so we understand there’s folks who need our support.

GregAlan and Bill There was a time when more movies with religious subject matter, like ‘Agnes of God’, played heavily to mainstream audiences. Now those movies, like ‘God’s Not Dead’ and ‘The Resurrection of Gavin Stone’ seem to play to more of a niche audience. So how can you change that?

Bill Duke: I think movies that address the human issue, whatever it is, is the key; people the audience can relate to, not the subject matter, but the people who are going through this struggle or difficulty and how they come out the other side, and what that’s about. I think that’s already happened! There are a lot of faith-based movies that are very, very, very successful, especially the ones that don’t preach. They’re the ones who basically talk about the human condition, which is what we’re trying to do with ‘Created Equal’. Mr. Williams you’re no stranger to controversial subject matter on television and in films. What were you thinking coming into your role in ‘Created Equal’?

GregAlan Williams: The first thing I was thinking was…Bill Duke! You know what I’m saying? I get to work with Bill Duke! So I read the script. I attended for a time a Jesuit boarding school but I was raised Church of God In Christ. I understand very clearly the roles that women are compelled to play in both the Catholic Church and in the Church of God In Christ. With C.O.G.I.C., men preach and women teach. A woman may be preaching but they say she’s teaching, and she can’t do it from the pulpit. Though she’s just as knowledgeable biblically she’s going to deliver her message from the floor. So that certainly resonated with me. It’s an old story. It’s women aspiring to be full partners in their communities. You were attracted to working with Mr. Duke, which is understandable, indeed. What specifically caught your eye, though, once you began to read that script?

GregAlan Williams: In the very early scenes there is a young girl of color asking a nun about being a priest. And in that instant you realize the issues that face people of color and the issues that face women are one in the same. Those issues are especially poignant for women of color. That’s the kind of thing that Bill does, and he was talking about humanity. Just by casting a young girl of color in that role she merges civil rights issues with women’s issues and…it’s just a wonderful thing! Mr. Duke, what was it like directing two film legends like GregAlan Williams and Lou Diamond Philips?

Bill Duke: It was a collaborative effort. Probably one of the best experiences I’ve had as a director. When you’re doing a movie there’s people you’re working with who set standards. They don’t have to say nothing. When you’re in a scene with them, and you don’t come with it, you get buried! You have to bring your top game. If you don’t you die. The rest of the cast saw them in leadership roles, how they acted on the set, how prepared they were, and how eloquently they performed. They’re such talented men who are committed to the message, and not only in terms of their character, but what’s being said. Having the two of them was really a collaborative experience. They delivered great performances and I hope we can do it again! Mr. Williams what did you enjoy most about working with Bill Duke?

GregAlan Williams: Bill walks with a kind of humility that can be rare in this business. At the same time I watched him at critical moments make sure that his vision was carried out shot to shot, scene to scene. That was very important to me, watching that kind of leadership. A he could do it quietly without raising his voice, but it’s very clear not only what we need to do, but what we must do at this particular setup and this particular shot. It was amazing! How do you expect ‘Created Equal’ to inspire not only women but persons in general to not be afraid to deliver their message?

Bill Duke: I think what’s great about this movie, and this is a universal message, is that fear is part of success. Your ability to deal with the fears that you face and still go on and achieve, that’s the foundation of success. |

CREDITS Written by Mr. Joe Walker | Photos – Search Engine Exploration | GregAlan Williams – as Himself | Bill Duke – as Himself | Producer – Liquid Arts & Entertainment | Creative Director – The Liquidation Committee | Editor – Mr. Joe Walker | Copy Editor – Mr. Joe Walker | Site Editor – Doug Sims | Webmaster – Doug Sims | Twitter – @LiquidAEMag | Instagram – @liquidmagazine

Liquid Arts & Entertainment is committed to presenting engaging conversations with top artists. We hope you enjoyed this interview with GregAlan Williams and Bill Duke.

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