We are just days from the highly anticipated film “The Perfect Guy” starring Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chestnut and Michael Ealy. I don’t know about you but I was intrigued by the trailer; intrigued enough to find out more about the movie and about the man behind the screenplay for the movie.
We know Tyger Williams best for his screenplay “Menace II Society” which was one of my favorite African American films from back in the day. Tyger was among many of the African American writers of the 1990s that put African American culture on the map. Now he is about to do it again, with something a little different – still keeping African American people center stage but focusing on the theme of obsession.
Tyger, thank you for accepting this invitation to share more about your career with Reel Focus readers. Of course we want to know more about the film but first I want to start with a little bit of your background in film. Tell us how you became a screenwriter.
It was watching Star Wars as a child that made me fall in love with movies. I started writing short stories in middle school and high school with no intention of writing screenplays. In college I studied production and marketing with the intention of becoming a producer. While interning for a production company and doing lots of script coverage I read a book that said writing was the easiest way into the business and so I started writing screenplays, the third of which was Menace II Society. I ended up selling it before graduation. My advice to anyone wanting to become a screenwriter is to read TONS of scripts, rather than all those books on how to write. The more you read the more you recognize what works and doesn’t, and why. You also get a sense of all of the different styles and voices. This is invaluable in terms of figuring out your own identity as a writer.
What have you been doing since Menace II Society?
Lots of writing. I wrote a bunch of scripts for all of the studios, most of which ended up stuck in development. I also wrote a few TV pilots that never materialized. It was lucrative business but not entirely creatively fulfilling because nothing was getting made. I eventually connected with the Sundance Institute and began serving as a creative advisor to their Screenwriting and Directing Labs, which I continue to do still. That led to me teaching screenwriting at U.S.C. and all the while I’m still writing my own screenplays. Because that’s what a writer does, right? We write and write and continue to write.
Tell us more about “The Perfect Guy.” What made you want to write such a thriller and what do you think it is about your screenplay that attracted such top-billing actors and actresses?
The Perfect Guy is a thrill ride. It’s romantic, sexy and scary all at once. I had been working with Screen Gems on another project for a couple of years. When that didn’t work out they asked me to write The Perfect Guy. I was intrigued and challenged by the idea of writing a thriller, and especially interested in writing a role specifically for Sanaa Lathan. I’d been a fan of hers for years and just knew it’d be a great fit. I also knew that nobody else in Hollywood was writing a movie like this for her and saw it as a great opportunity to present adult, out-of the-box roles for African-American actors. And then Michael Ealy and Morris Chestnut showed up!
Finally, what’s next for Tyger Williams – in film and in life in general?
I’m currently writing and producing a limited series for ABC Signature Studios and busy developing other projects, one of which I may end up directing. And I’ll continue working with Sundance and U.S.C. as long as they’ll have me because I have a great need to “give back” and be part of an artistic community. Life is good in general, the best approach being to enjoy each day.
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