The Reel Black List: Lewis Williams, Creative Leader

Lewis Williams

Lewis Williams

“There is no better story
than life itself.”

Lewis is a passionate, award winning creative leader and storyteller with extensive experience in total, ethnic and multicultural marketing. As a thinker across all platforms, digital and traditional, he thrives for both breakthrough and effective solutions.

During his career he has created work for major brands such as McDonald’s, Toyota, American Airlines, Budweiser, Walt Disney World, Walmart, Allstate, Miller Lite and Verizon.

After spending much of his successful career at Leo Burnett/Chicago he is presently Chief Creative Officer of Burrell Communications.

Lewis is a distinguished alumnus of The Kent State School of Design. In 2006, he established the Lewis and Dona Williams Scholarship Fund. The funds are dedicated to those students needing financial assistance.

In order to maintain a healthy work/life balance he is an avid runner and dedicated yoga student.

 
What was your first break?

I went to school at Kent State University right smack in the middle of the Midwest Snow Belt. So, I headed to Southern California. My first ad break came with a small agency in San Diego. Phillips Ramsey. Mainly famous for doing awarding work for San Diego Zoo and Del Mar Race Track.

 
Worst thing that ever happened to you to remind you that you are Black?

That’s a long list since I was born and raised in The South. Macon, Georgia. The worst thing? Well anything that happens to you as a result of your ethnicity or race is bad. But I do remember a client made a derogatory comment about me over the speaker phone doing a meeting that he didn’t know I was in. The others, I know happened but just never heard.

 
Best thing to ever happen to you to remind you that you are Black?

The mindset of “I will succeed no matter the barriers in front of me attitude.”

 
Work you are most proud of?

I never like to answer this question. Because it says you are done. I’m not done. But there was a campaign I did some years ago for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center I’m very proud of. The subject was empowering the individual to speak up against racial discrimination. Did it 15 years ago. Unfortunately you can still run it today.

 
How has the business changed since you broke in?

Entirely new industry. That thing called technology changed the game. Social, digital etc. Also, the long-term client agency partnership lacks the trust it once had. Unfortunately, the diversity or the lack of diversity hasn’t changed much.

 
Trapped on an island what are the creative essentials you must have?

Stick and a big patch of sand I where I can write my ideas down before I forget them.

 
If you had a time machine, what would you say to your past self?

You did OK kid.

 
If you could have a one-on-one with anyone who would it be? And why?

My Grandfathers. Didn’t know them well.

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