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article imageA conversation with 'Mad Men's Kit Williamson Special

By Mindy Peterman     Apr 29, 2014 in Entertainment
If you watch AMC’s "Mad Men," you know Kit Williamson as the bespectacled, somewhat goofy copywriter Ed Gifford. But there is much more to this actor than his role on the hit television show even hints at.
When 28-year-old Kit Williamson auditioned for Mad Men, he was told the role he was trying for would have him saying only one line. As it turned out, good fortune smiled upon him and he has since been cast as a regular on the show, appearing, so far, in six episodes. As much a fan as he is of Mad Men (and he told me he is a “huge fan”), Williamson’s main interest these days is in his own project, a series on Logo TV called [i]EastSiders[/i]. He is the creator, writer, and director of the show and it is a true labor of love for him. Season one was funded by fans via a Kickstarter campaign. Now he is looking for funding for Season two and hopes fans will find it in their hearts and wallets to help keep the show in production.
I spoke recently with Williamson about Mad Men, EastSiders, and how a young man from Mississippi made his mark in Hollywood.
Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi.
I don’t hear much of a drawl.
I got rid of it. I went to boarding school in Michigan’s Interlochen Arts Academy and learned how to speak “standard stage”. [The drawl] comes back when I get drunk.
How did you get into the performing arts?
I was always doing local community theater as a kid at the New Stage theater, the one repertory theater in the state. That’s where I took classes over the summer. From there I went to Interlochen and studied acting and writing. Then I went to undergraduate at Fordham University in New York. While I was there I was very fortunate to be cast in the Broadway show Talk Radio in my junior year of college.
You did a lot of theater prior to getting into television. Would you ever like to return to the stage?
Someday I would like to. It’s a lot harder now, I think, to make a living as a stage actor than it was years ago. I think it’s because producing theater in New York has gotten so expensive. So to put on a play rather than a musical you need all the help you can get in terms of getting audience members to come and pay a lot of money to see a play. So you see a lot of celebrities in plays now, which is understandable but at the same time disheartening for people just starting out.
These last two years have been busy ones for you. You’ve been involved with three projects, including a role on AMC’s Mad Men. How did you get involved with the show?
I auditioned for a one-line part and I was very glad they brought me back.
Were you a fan of the show before being cast in it?
A huge fan. I had watched every episode from the very beginning.
You’re only 28 years old. What do you think of the era in which Mad Men is set?
I think our current society has so much to learn from the era in which Mad Men is set. We have come a very long way in some respects yet we are still trapped in the past in others.
Your character, copywriter Ed Gifford, brings a bit of lightheartedness to a show that can be filled with doom and gloom. Do you enjoy the role?
I love it. It’s so much fun to be a part of that world. The levity the character has is a part of why I think the show is so well written. I always find humor amidst the tragedy.
How do you like working with Elizabeth Moss (Peggy Olsen)?
She’s so fun to work with. She’s such a kind, generous person to everyone on set. Everyone on that set is like a family and they don’t exclude newcomers. It really is a unique welcoming sort of environment.
You can also be seen in Hipsterhood, a fun web series where the dialogue is voiceovers of the characters thoughts. How challenging was it to film this way?
Some of the scenes were easier than others. In some scenes you have someone off camera feeding you your internal monologue. There were others where we needed the sound prerecorded or we needed certain cues for overlapping dialogue with one another. It was a challenge.
You created, write and direct the series EastSiders, which can be seen on Logo TV and on the Logo website. Tell us a bit about the show and what inspired you to create it.
I wanted to tell a story with gay characters that I could relate to. And I wanted to play a gay character. I had never been afforded the opportunity to do that in my career. It’s become very important to me to see LGBT recognition in all media.
Season one was financed by a Kickstarter campaign and now you’re looking for funding for Season two. How can fans get involved and do they get any perks for contributing to the campaign?
Absolutely. People can get involved by either contributing to the Kickstarter or by sharing the Kickstarter link on their social media. It’s very helpful because every share helps us get backers. If you do back the campaign, there are a lot of really great perks including everything from a download of the series to DVDs to coasters, an invitation to the premiere party or even a producer credit or walk-on role.
And how much are you asking people to contribute?
Every contribution means a lot to the project. From five dollars to ten thousand dollars. We really welcome all. Anyone who wants to get involved is welcome.
If you would like to contribute to the EastSiders Kickstarter campaign, you can do so here.
More about Kit Williamson, Mad men, Amc, EastSiders, logotv
 
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