Written by. Chalise Macklin
Long gone are the days of OWN struggling to find its footing as a network. Things started off slow five years ago, but now the network is thriving with several hit shows and rising stars thanks to an overhaul of content and its partnership with Tyler Perry to create scripted programming. The Have and Have Nots is one the most successful shows on the network. Its new season premiered last night, but its new show, Greenleaf, is gaining a lot of buzz. The two-night premiere continues tonight, but is already receiving rave reviews and described as “fresh.”
Oprah Winfrey (Mavis McCready) and Lynn Whitfield (Lady Mae Greenleaf) star in the series. The drama is based on the Greenleaf family life and the secrets their Memphis megachurch is built on.
Several other veteran actors such as Keith David (Bishop James Greenleaf) and Gregory Alan Williams (Robert Mac McCready) help comprise the cast as well as some newcomers.
Zachary S. Williams is one of the newbie actors who has snagged the opportunity most actors dream of.
“I’m really excited it was a memorable experience. “I’m looking forward to seeing the results, said Williams.
Williams is a talented musician, singer and actor. He landed the sought after role after playing the piano during his audition.
“I got an email from my agent about the audition. I read the script at first I was not sure, but the fact that the character played the piano sold me,” Zachary said.
His character is a troubled teen from a dysfunctional family who gains support from Mavis, Winfrey’s character as he plays piano in her bar.
“Mavis does something really special for him. Their relationship has a lot of unspoken dialogue. They understand each other, Williams said.
He started playing the piano at age four and was classically trained for many years. Zachary got his start acting by booking various print jobs and commercials such as Disney, Busch Gardens and Universal’s World of Harry Potter. He also co-hosts a TV mini-series “Ray Rookies;” a show designed to engage youth fans of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. But none of his previous work compares to his new role.
“It feels really great. I’m still shocked. It is mind blowing. How many 16 year olds get to say they worked with Oprah Winfrey,” said Zachary.
The special relationship between Williams and Winfrey was not introduced last night, but it is not all the audience should tune in for. There is a lot more drama and must see moments as the complexity of the characters are revealed.
“There are definitely layers and the story of Greenleaf is told very authentic. People will definitely be able to relate. The writing is directed so the audience can connect with characters,” Williams said.
He also stated the diversity of the cast will garner an audience of varying ages.
“People will find someone on the show to relate to. The cast ranges from people in their teens to people in their sixties.” Zachary said.
His character will likely resonate young people; not because of his age but the complexity of his role.
“My character comes from a trouble home and so does a lot of young people. By watching my character I want them to see there is hope and inspiration. They need to know they have options.” said Zachary.
Williams says he has learned a lot from his time on the set of Greenleaf.
“I was able to learn and grow in an environment that was comfortable,” said Zachary.
As he pursues his acting career, he still plans to attend college later. And he plans to use the advice given to him by Oprah to double major in musical theater and TV production.
“She told me to never give up and always go for what you want.” Williams said.
One of Zacahry’s future goals is to work with community organizations that provide children with opportunities to showcase their talents and interest them in the arts.