Q&A: Doug Williams20 July 2015 / by Joe Walker (columnist)
Comedian Doug Williams grew up surrounded by significant footnotes in African American history. A native of Montgomery, AL—the mecca of the Civil Rights movement, Williams realizes it’s no laughing matter to create opportunities for cultural advancement. This is the reason he’s a proud ambassador of Urban Movie Channel.
Created by legendary media executive and BET founder, Robert L. Johnson, UMC is a premium subscription-based video streaming service launched by his company, RLJ Entertainment, in November 2014. With new titles added weekly, the service offers an unprecedented line-up of more than 150 titles in their UMC Library; this includes movies, sitcoms, live stage productions and stand-up comedy.
The hilarious Williams is a part of comedy-centric programming block “Fall Out Fridays,” which runs through the end of September; there you’ll find him hosting Martin Lawrence Presents: 1st Amendment Stand Up.
Doug Williams brought his UMC goodwill to SoulTrain.com for this exclusive interview.
SoulTrain.com: Doug, you’re an accomplished comedian. You can easily make light of just about anything. With that being said, why should you be taken seriously as ambassador for Urban Movie Channel?
Doug Williams: That’s a funny question because I want to be taken seriously…in a comical way. I’m serious about this channel being historic and revolutionary. It’s about time for a channel that’s this dedicated to urban programming. It’s been hard to find that in the entertainment industry.
SoulTrain.com: You often hear about there being a lack of quality urban programming.
Doug Williams: When you look at Hollywood, just look at what we have out there in terms of programming on all the major networks, even talk shows. Once Arsenio [Hall] left again, we lost that place to see urban performances embraced by the world. Now with Urban Movie Channel you have place you can go 24 hours a day, on Fridays—Fallout Fridays, in particular—you can see urban standup comedy, which I’m the host of the show 1st Amendment Stand Up. You can see a comedy series or movies.
SoulTrain.com: Doug, why has UMC placed such an emphasis on comedy?
Doug Williams: Because I think we’re in a time where the news brings us down. The news is just 24 hours of tragedy. We’re surrounded by that. Life, as of late, has been so tragic. When you read the newspaper, when you turn on the news, there’s nothing to make you happy. We need a good news channel. I think UMC is offering that. It’s a “good news” channel. You can turn it on, go on line, stream it, and laugh. You can look at something that isolates you from the problems of the world. And laughter is universal. We all want to laugh and we all need to laugh.
SoulTrain.com: Tell us what’s going to make UMC stand out from other on-demand streaming services like Netflix and WWE Network.
Doug Williams: The content library is geared toward a specific audience. When you look at a network like Netflix, as big as it has become, you still have, in my humble opinion, a limited access to urban programming. And people are craving urban programming. We’re very specific, and we’re offering never before seen urban programs. We have a sitcom called Things We Do For Love with Alfonso Ribeiro from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Tamera Mowry from The Real and Sister, Sister. This is a never before seen sitcom, and you’ll be able to go into this library to see things you’ve never seen any other place.
SoulTrain.com: It’s been noted Netflix and WWE have achieved great success, and growth, offering legitimate exclusives. Sounds like UMC is on the right track.
Doug Williams: You can come to urbanmoviechannel.com and see never before seen things on top of an endless vault of urban programming I feel society is demanding to see. Take my show, 1st Amendment Stand Up; it initially ran on the Starz network when they were first starting out. Not many people knew about Starz. By the time people caught on to Starz, 1st Amendment was gone. Now we’ve brought it back to Urban Movie Channel and we’re airing never before seen footage! We’ve put together new shows! Take a show like Sanford & Son, and you could offer to air never before seen footage of that show or new episodes. How many people would be enthused by that?
SoulTrain.com: What is your favorite thing about Urban Movie Channel’s potential?
Doug Williams: Its unlimited potential and the opportunities this network is going to open up for minorities. It’s going to create jobs. It’s going to create productions. You’re going to see entire productions consisting of minorities! I can’t overemphasize the importance of that. From comedies to documentaries to plays, we need opportunities to tell our stories.
For more on Urban Movie Channel, visit urbanmoviechannel.com. Follow the network Twitter and Instagram @WatchUMC, and on Facebook.
—Mr. Joe Walker
Mr. Joe Walker is an urban and pop culture enthusiast. Known as “The Word Heavyweight Champion”, the biographer, author, entertainment and celebrity journalist, and columnist is currently a senior writer for SoulTrain.com, staff writer for Muskegon Tribune Newspaper, and writer of weekly classic hip-hop reviews for Concrete Magazine’s Concrete615.com. Also co-creator of TheGrooveSpot.com, Walker’s acclaimed, award-winning work has been published thousands of times regionally, nationally, internationally, and online. He is also working on a book project with Liquid Arts & Entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @mrjoewalker, connect with him on Facebook, and also visit his blog ByMrJoeWalker.blogspot.com.