With limited resources and financing for TV and film production, Tammy Williams took a leap of faith in 2010.
"Let’s just use the garage, so we pulled the cars out, hung lights from the ceiling, repainted, used a green screen and shot our first show," she said. "We learned the value of using what is in your hand, your resources, what’s around you. Sometimes we have the answers right in front of us, but we overlook them."
After two years, Williams and her husband purchased a warehouse, the new home for Open Rivers Pictures, where they shoot film, TV and did digital production.
"Moving out of our garage into our own studio was surreal," she said. "When we started shooting, it was exciting, it was a lot of hard work to convert a warehouse."
Williams became the first black woman to own her own studio and post production facility in Georgia.
"It’s one of those things I didn't necessarily think about,” she said. “You're just trying to fulfill a vision, you’re trying to do everything that's on your heart to do, so if along the way you're the first, you're like, great, I hope I’m helping open doors for other people who want to open a studio."
Her accomplishments are impressive, yet for Williams it’s important for her to stay humble.
"A little girl from Tennessee who used to run barefoot in gravel," she said. "To see our house burn down when I was a little kid and lose everything, who knew? I didn't. I was just following a path and a vision."
Williams got emotional talking about where it all started for her, getting sparks of inspiration from her mother's strength.
"Growing up in a time when I did, and just remembering my mom and watching her go from a factory, from taking classes at the college, going to cosmetology school on the weekends with two kids as a single mother," she said. "All that she did for us, it wasn't perfect, but she did her best…my mom is very proud, she is my biggest cheerleader."
For Williams, it's meaningless without giving back, teaching and inspiring others
"I always said I want to give people jobs, I want to help people find jobs and that's always been in the back of my head,” she said. “To see people are getting jobs because of a little something I’ve done…the greater need of our country and telling stories that will have an positive impact pushes me, seeing others fulfilling their dream, that pushes me, being able to share and realize there is enough for everybody.”
Williams has opened doors for many in the TV and film industry, and she says you just have to walk through and follow your dreams.
"We have to get rid of the barriers that stop us, let go of whatever makes you stop, whether it’s emotional or physical, but we have to get on that path to fulfill those dreams," she said.
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