Actor, Mykelti Williamson, Talks His Upbringing, Acting Career & Expanding His Brand with ‘Bubba Style Seasoning ‘ [EXCLUSIVE] Abner Jackson III Monday, February 3, 2014 Lights, Camera, Action, Script Xclusive, The Vault In 1994, the world fell head-over-heels for a supporting character whose strong southern dialect and love for shrimp warmed hearts as he established an unique bond with Forrest Gump, who was played by Tom Hanks. Forrests’ best bud was Benjamin Buford (Bubba) Blue, formally known as Michael T “Mykelti” Williamson. Even after Williamson’s breakthrough role, he continues to inspire others through acting, while keeping a small piece of “Bubba’s” spirit within. For over 35 years, Williamson has entertained thousands of film enthusiasts with his acting abilities. He has starred in numerous films such as Wildcats (1986), Free Willy (1993), Forrest Gump (1994), Heat (1995), Waiting to Exhale (1995), The Final Destination (2009), Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2005), ATL (2006) and many others. Television roles has included “Miami Vice”, “Hill Street Blues”, “Starsky & Hutch”, “Boomtown”, “CSI: NY”, “24”, and “Justified”. Nowadays, 56 year old Williamson is reaching new heights. He’s currently has a lead role in the upcoming film, Convergence, and continues to perform on television in “Chicago PD” and “The Wild Blue”. Another passion has emerged into a new business venture for Williamson. Thanks to his longtime reputation of being a great cook, the actor now sells his very own line of seasonings called Bubba Style Seasonings. No matter the industry, film or food, Williamson make sure he gives it all he’s got. This is a testament as to why he’s outlasted a lot of his peers and has many more years left in him. Check out our interview with Williamson. He talks about how he entered into the business, current projects, and his new line of spices. How did you get your start in acting? What made you pursue a career in film? I grew as most people of color and most of Americans, I grew up in the church. A lot of singers get their start in the church with their singing, like the Whitney Houstons and a lot of the amazing singers. It was no different for me. I used to watch television with my grandparents when I was a kid, I was the youngest at the time. I stay home from school, I wasn’t school aged yet I would watch public people on television. I thought because I could see them they could see us; my family explained to me that it wasn’t realistic and explained to me what television was. I decided I wanted to be on that thing, I started acting in church. My mom told me to pray about it. I told my mom I want an agent. Sometime went by and my parents moved to California after she told me to pray about it. That was the first piece that fell into place and I didn’t realize it. I continued to pray about it and then one day in a car wash a man walked up to me. We were talking and he said “Hi, you not in school today?” I told him I was out early and was with my mom. We started joking around, this man and I. I was laughing at his car because it was entering the car wash about to get eaten up by this machine. I was like, “Oh My God, it was over. Your car is crushed and it’s done.” He was laughing and I was just clowning. My mom turned the corner and said, “Boy sit down” and I was like “Oh God, I’m in trouble.” The man and my mom had a conversation and it turns out his girlfriend was an agent. He told my mom, “That young man has quite a imagination, if he is interested in doing movies and television” and I jumped up and said, “Yes Sir I am.” She said, “Sit your butt down” I sat down and he said “If you call this number this is my fiancé, she is a agent and tell her I want her to represent your son.” That’s how I got my first agent. It just came from God. One thing led to another. Started working. Started training. Started studying. Started auditioning and here it is 40 years later, I’m still in the game. Outside of your character “Bubba” in Forrest Gump, has there been any other pivotal moments that helped change your career? I would say Heat with Al Pacino, directed by Michael Mann. To me, that was more of the important roles I have done. Forrest Gump was more of the popular project. That actually enhanced my career more than Forrest Gump did. Forrest Gump didn’t really help me. It damned near destroyed my career. People didn’t realize that was an “actor” doing their role. They thought they found a guy with a big lip somewhere on a farm and stuck him in a movie. All the money I earned in Forrest Gump I had to spend campaigning and putting myself in magazines so people can see that it was a actor. It kinda pissed me off. You know as a person of color. Only a person of color would have to jump through hoops like that. It actually pissed me off. I was able to savage my career and now people think I’m brilliant…go figure (ironic). On FOX new show “The Wild Blue” and NBC’s “Chicago”, what are your roles? How do those characters differ in comparison? On “Chicago PD”, I play an assistant chief of police and he is a social climber. Then, in the “Wild Blue” the character Donald Bowman is a master chief and the highest ranking enlisted man on the ship. It’s about the US Navy and he is the highest ranking enlisted man in the Navy. Between the enlisted men and the officers upstairs, he is a great a negotiator and a great manipulator. One of those guys, the police chief is not always a nice guy. Donald Bowman does the best he can to be a good guy. But, he is not to be played with. So, I think those are the differences. So, you have a leading role in a new feature film “Convergence”. How did that come about? What was interesting about the character that made you want to audition for it? Convergence is about a group of team of police officers and emergency workers show up to investigate an explosion. Once they get inside the building, the real big explosion is triggered, the booby trap is triggered and it goes off. All of their sprits, because they lose they lives in the building. All of their spirits are running around in limbo trying to figure out, where they belong based off how they lived their lives. For me, it was an amazing opportunity and the script was great. It was a project I had to make work as busy as my schedule is. We were able to consolidate my days, so that I can do the project and I’m very happy about it and very pleased. When will Convergence hit theaters? I am not sure, its in the hands of the Director/Writer, Drew Hall. He is so smart, such a good guy, and he can easily be another Stephen Spielberg. This guy got so much talent. It’s amazing. Drew Hall is cutting the film right now and it may hit the film festival circuit first, before it goes to theaters. So they are sort of testing it and brainstorming to figure out the best way to move it forward. If you could name one role in your career, which was most memorable? On television there is a series called “Boomtown”, created by Graham Yost who wrote “Speed”. The character name was Fearless Bobby Smith, that was my favorite television character. He was so mystical and philosophical. He was kind and he was dangerous. In film, there was a independent film called “Truth or Consequences New Mexico” and directed by Kiefer Sutherland. I played an undercover – a guy who was not who he said he was named Marcus. For me, in film that is my favorite character, even over Forrest Gump. My favorite character I ever done in film. On stage I had the privilege of playing Denzel [Washington] brother on Broadway, in a play called “Fences”. The role I did in “Fences” was my favorite role I ever done on stage. If you could play someone in a biopic, who would it be? Donnie Hathaway and Stepin Fetchit. Donnie Hathaway, since he was misunderstood and probably one of the most gracious, sensitive and talented man, who had to wrestle against a lot of internal struggles. And talented most gracious men to ever walk the face of the Earth. Stepin Fetchit, he was the first black movie star, but he was misunderstood and hated by his peers. He struggled to be loved by his peers. I just think that actor’s life to me is most fascinating. Even today if someone called is Stepin Fetchit, it’s meant as an insult. He was our first black movie star. It’s ironic to me people of color are taught to hate their own pioneers. He was the first person to break through a color barrier and people often times hate. Those , to me, are the two dream roles I would love to play. How long has your Bubba Style Seasoning been around for? That’s a passion project for me, my Bubba Style Seasoning. I have an online store called www.BubbaStyle.net. I launched the online store with my wife, brother and I about a year and half ago. People can just go online and order the spices. These spices are my own recipes that I grew up learning how to blend. My parents taught me how to blend. My mom taught me how to cook over the telephone while she was at work raising us a single parent. She would call us after school and tell us what to do. How low or how high to turn the fire and call us back and tell us what to add next. And to do our homework in the kitchen, so you can watch the pot so it won’t burn or boil over. That’s how I learned to cook, over the phone while my mom was at work. These spices are a lifelong passion and the very same spices I been making for my friends and other entertainment professionals that I have known over the years – who always asked me to put together some spices, hook up some ketchup or bar-b-que sauces for them – these are the spices. For about a year and a half it’s been available at BubbaStyle.net. We hope to get it in stores nationwide very soon, but it’s all about striking the right deal. What inspired you to sell seasonings? I don’t really like salty food. I like tasty food. I like all kinds of cultures from Indian, Mexican, Southern Italian, French, and Asian. I like it all. The reason I started making my own seasoning, I got tired of everybody food tasting the same. They would go to the store and buy the same seasoning and everybody food pretty similar. People would come to our house say “Man what you guys put on this.” That’s a testament to the fact that it doesn’t taste like things they can get down the street. So that’s what inspired me to start using my own seasoning, to get away from the salts and chemicals which we use very little salt. We used herbs and spices, it taste like it has as much salt as you like in it, but its herbs and spices blended a certain way. That’s what inspired me to not wanting to get the stuff off the shelf and put in my body. Which flavors are available to buy? Right now there is three. What we called Good Ol’ seasoning, which is a sort of a smoke brown sugar seasoning. Then we got a Spicy Ol’ seasoning, which is a mild spice but it’s a smoke brown seasoning. When I say smoke brown sugar, it doesn’t have enough sugar in it to even register on the label. The way the spices are blended it’s going to taste a little bit sweet to you. Then, I have something that we use instead of using Lawry’s, which I grew up using and I think people like that, that’s cool. We have one that doesn’t have as much salt and it’s called Fry Bubba Fry. You can use it for frying and it’s like a all-purpose seasoning. So, it’s Good Ol’ seasoning, Spicy Ol’ seasoning and Fry Bubba Fry. What’s the key to seasoning meat perfectly? Not overpower the meat with salt. Salt should be the absolute final ingredient added when you cooking your meat. Some people put salt early in and that’s just not the right way to do it. Use all your other herbs and spices and use salt last. I think you will enjoy and be happy with your final product.