Paul Williams Embraces Love of Film and Television in Pursuit of Career in Directing
LONG ISLAND CITY, NY (March 01, 2023) — Clubs, athletics, and other extra-curricular activities offer LaGuardia Community College students many opportunities to explore career interests and develop leadership skills.
Paul Williams, a Film and Television major from East Harlem, has been honing his skills as a filmmaker, film critic, and leader, through various campus activities including serving as president of LaGuardia’s student Film Club.
During his first semester at LaGuardia, in fall 2021, Professor David Stott invited Paul, 36, to join the Film Club and consider serving as a member of the club’s leadership.
“I immediately nominated myself for president, because I like to take on work and responsibility.” Paul said. “I wanted the experience of overseeing a club.”
The Film Club met virtually at the time, so Paul and his fellow club offices planned hands-on experiences for when in-person club meetings could be held.
“We decided that we wanted to give members a 3-D experience making film,” Paul said. “Once COVID restrictions were lifted, we implemented our plans. We began by holding weekly meetings to watch films. We then created The Critics Circle where members discussed and rated the films watched together. This led to the creation of The Critics Circle television show, which we filmed at LaGuardia’s on-campus television studio next to room M-122. In addition, Film Club members were able to participate in LaGuardia Live, a student driven sketch show. It’s like Saturday Night Live for LaGuardia students, who created commercials, skits, shorts, and other content they wanted for the show.”
When Paul isn’t leading the Film Club, he can be seen directing films. He received an LGBTQ Film Fellowship through the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives to make a film about the first-ever Queens Pride in 1993.
Paul’s career path in film and television, comes after spending more than a decade of pursuing acting and working with children as an afterschool grade leader.
“When the pandemic hit, I thought about my life and decided that I wasn’t happy with how it was going,” Paul said. “I decided to go back to school to earn a degree and make connections with professors who have links to the entertainment industry.”
Professor David Stott, referred Paul to Media MKRS, a program that helps students train for and gain experience working in the film industry.
“I just got my first paid internship through Media MKRS,” Paul said. “I’m working for the Katra Film Series as an initial screener of films entered into the festival. Once I get my degree, I’ll be able to apply to more internships in the film industry through Media MKRS. It’s a process, but I’m getting there!”
Despite managing his many film and television activities, Paul has been able to keep up with his academics, and currently has a 3.75 GPA. He is a member of the President’s Society, Phi Theta Kappa, and the Honors Student Advisory Committee. Paul is also a recipient of scholarships from the LaGuardia Community College Foundation, and is an ASAP student.
Paul will graduate from LaGuardia in June 2023, and plans to pursue a bachelor’s in Film and TV. He has been accepted to Hunter, City College, Lehman College, and Brooklyn College, and decided to enroll at Lehman College.
“I’m working my way towards being a casting director, ideally in L.A., so that I can be in a position to add diversity to film and television,” said Paul. “There’s a big need for more voices to be heard. The entertainment industry needs to evolve, but it’s not happening fast enough. I want to see people who look like me, a Black, Latino, queer man. I want to push for more Native American representation. More Black men and women in lead roles. More LGBTQ and trans actors. I also want to help Asian American men break out of their stereotypes, and more.”
Paul is happy to be in a space where he can pursue his dreams.
“I feel so at home at LaGuardia,” Paul said. “There’s such a sense of community and I appreciate its diversity. I’m a New Yorker, and LaGuardia’s diversity feels like NYC to me. These are the things I’ll miss when I graduate.”
The LGBTQ Film Fellowship is made possible due to generous funding from the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual Caucus of the New York City Council, the Office of the Mayor of New York City, and the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives.
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LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), located in Long Island City, Queens, educates thousands of New Yorkers annually through degree, certificate, and continuing education programs. LaGuardia is a national voice on behalf of community colleges, where half of all U.S. college students study. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his championing the underserved. Since our doors opened in 1971, our programs regularly become national models for pushing boundaries to give people of all backgrounds access to a high quality, affordable college education.