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Richard Willis, Jr., Writer, Producer, Director, and Manager
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Richard Willis, Jr., is CEO and Executive Producer of Mozell Entertainment Group. New York City.

Mozell Entertainment Group is a creative and business entity experienced in conceiving, developing, pitching, and producing projects for television, film, theatre, and music. In 2007, as President of the Los Angeles based production company, Third & Hauser Productions, Richard produced three award-winning Documentaries: Prison Body-Freedom Soul: The Robert Coney StoryIn The Blood: Bridging the Generations Through the Black Rodeo; and The Road to Inspiration: The Gospel According To Patti Labelle. 

Richard is a Peabody Award Winner, and has been Emmy nominated, as part of other production teams. A popular panelist, Richard is a recipient of the New York Foundation For The Arts fellowship in Playwriting/Screenwriting, and was a grand prize winner of the National Association of Television Programming Executives (NATPE) “Pitch Me!” competition. He is listed in Who’s Who in America 2009, is a member of100 Black Men of America, and manages music artist Reyn, supermodel Isaac J. Sullivan, and choreographer Lancelot E. Theobald, Jr.

Richard is completing several feature film projects in 2009, including The Burning Light of the Moon (based on a True Story); A Clean Kill (a collaboration with military veteran and airline pilot Robert Tate); The West Bank (Elkins Entertainment); and Things Said on a Thursday Night, Richard’s feature directorial debut.

Richard was a writer/project consultant on Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues; a writer/consultant on PBS’ The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow (Peabody); a writer/director of the Off-Broadway play Middle Class Black folk in the Clair de Lune (national tour); and a writer of WASPS in the Bed. Richard’s most recent development deal is with 20th Century Fox.

We interviewed Richard at his office in Los Angeles for iStudioi.

iStudioi: What brought you into the world of entertainment?

RJW: My adventurous childhood. I was blessed with a brightly lit imagination as a young person. And I grew up around older, wiser people who approached life with zeal and zest. And then in high school, my speech/debate and drama teacher introduced me to plays and the theater. And I was home....

iStudioi: Tell us about your current projects in film.

RJW: Although I have several every exciting projects for film and TV in development right now, I am particularly excited about The Burning Light of the Moon. This is based on the story of Robert Coney, and I am producer of the documentary on Mr. Coney titled Prison Body-Freedom Soul. It was a real artistic pleasure and personally very rewarding to adapt his story to big screen. There are several studios currently interested, and a couple of major stars.

iStudioi: We know you have a strong interest in live theater. What do you look for in a dramatic play?

RJW: Characters and story. The concept can be anything, as long as it is crafted well, with a people-filled journey that takes me somewhere. I want plays to say something. To affect perspective, to change me and my thinking.

iStudioi: What is it like to produce a documentary and what inspires you to want to develop a particular story.

RWJ: Making documentaries requires a unique ability to listen. That is, not just to observe, or to catalogue information, but to listen to a journey on the subject. Within the listening comes the inspiration to tell a certain story. Listening goes beyond words. It’s often what someone is really saying, behind the words, that you will find a great story to tell.

iStudioi: You are also skilled in music production. What brought you into that field?

RWJ: Music is a mechanism for expression. But it’s also organic. You are born with music within you and it’s just finding a way to bring it out.

iStudioi: As a writer, what interests you most about your subject matter?

RWJ: How the story will change and affect me. I became very interested in people, and stories of people who confronted challenges and found unique ways to overcome them. I am moved by the courageous sense of the spirit and always interested in subject matter that teaches us never to give up. In the small instances of life and in the big ways as well. I am also fascinated by stories that take unexpected turns. The unpredictable and the mysterious. Nothing appeals to me more than people whose spirit is strong and powerful.

iStudioi: Is there a particular element of artist management that you enjoy?

RWJ: Being part of a new artist’s future and discovering that he or she is an artist, at whatever their craft may be, and then formulating a strategy on how they may sustain themselves within their craft.

iStudioi: What are your future plans and projects within motion pictures, television, theater, and music?

RWJ: To continue to write and produce in Los Angeles for a few years, with some projects being New York based as well. To direct for film. Then to return to the theater. Then to learn to paint, play concert piano, and, when it’s all done, to sit on a beach and toss coins into the ocean.

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