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Russell Williams, II

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Information about Russell Williams, II

Profile image of Russell Williams, II

Profession

Category:
EntertainmentMakers
Occupation(s):
Film Producer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Sushi
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Kenya, Hawaii
Favorite Quote:
Any Day Above Ground Is A Victory.

Birthplace

Born:
10/14/1952
Birth Location:
Washington, District of Columbia

Profession

Category:
EntertainmentMakers
Occupation(s):
Film Producer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Sushi
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Kenya, Hawaii
Favorite Quote:
Any Day Above Ground Is A Victory.

Birthplace

Born:
10/14/1952
Birth Location:
Washington
See how Russell Williams, II is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Russell Williams, II was the first African American to win more than one Academy Award in any category. Two-time Academy Award and prime-time Emmy Award winner Russell Williams, II was born on October 14, 1952 in Washington, D.C. His mother, Lillie Mae Williams, worked in retail, while his father, Russell Williams, Sr., was an employee at Union Station. Williams’ mother passed away one day after childbirth. Williams grew up an avid movie-goer, raised in Washington, D.C. by his aunt and uncle, James and Ruth Harshaw.

In 1970, Williams attended the American University where he earned his B.A. in film production and literature in 1974. While pursuing his B.A., in 1973, Williams began working as an audio engineer for WRC/NBC-TV. He then moved to WMAL-TV (now WJLA-TV) and worked there from 1975 to 1976. Williams returned to work at WRC-TV from 1977 to 1978. In 1978, Williams formed his company, Sound Is Ready. He then transferred to work at WMAL/ABC Radio as an engineer and editor. Williams moved to Los Angeles in July of 1979, where he attended the University of Sound Arts, studying sound mixing and earned a certificate in electronics.

After moving to Los Angeles in 1979, Williams began working as the sound mixer for various films including Making the Grade (1984); In the Mood (1987); Billionaire Boys Club (1987) and The In Crowd (1987). In 1988, Williams won a prime-time Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Sound for Terrorist on Trial (1987). In 1990, he won an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Sound for Glory. In 1991, Williams made history when he won another Academy Award for his contribution as a sound mixer for Dances With Wolves, making him the first African American multi-Academy Award winner.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Williams did the sound recording for several films and made for television movies including Field of Dreams (1989); The Distinguished Gentleman (1992); Boomerang (1992); Waiting to Exhale (1995); How to Make an American Quilt (1995); Run for the Dream: The Gail Devers Story (1996); 12 Angry Men (1997), which he won another prime-time Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Sound; The Negotiator (1998); The Temptations (1999), which he earned a prime-time Emmy Award nomination for Part One of this miniseries for Best Sound; Rules of Engagement (2000); Life (1999); Training Day (2001); and The Sum of All Fears (2002). Williams also received accolades as a sound recordist for the civil rights documentaries, Eyes On The Prize: Bridge to Freedom and Eyes On The Prize: Fighting Back in 2006.

In 2002, Williams was hired as Artist in Residence at his alma mater, The American University. He has also taught at Howard University, University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Southern California.

Williams is married to Rosalind Williams and has two children from a previous marriage: Myles Candace Williams and Khemet Ellison Williams.

Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 26, 2007.

See how Russell Williams, II is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Russell Williams, II's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Russell Williams, II lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Russell Williams, II describes his mother's death
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Russell Williams, II describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Russell Williams, II talks about his maternal grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Russell Williams, II remembers his maternal family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Russell Williams, II describes his maternal great-grandmother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Russell Williams, II describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Russell Williams, II describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Russell Williams, II recalls learning about his mother's death
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Russell Williams, II talks about his maternal aunts
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Russell Williams, II describes the Benning Heights neighborhood in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Russell Williams, II describes the segregation of Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Russell Williams, II remembers trips to the movie theaters
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Russell Williams, II describes his father's civil rights activities
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Russell Williams, II remembers Davis Elementary School in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Russell Williams, II remembers school desegregation in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Russell Williams, II describes Randle Highlands Elementary School in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Russell Williams, II recalls the television programs of his youth
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Russell Williams, II describes the racial tensions in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Russell Williams, II remembers the March on Washington
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Russell Williams, II remembers Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Russell Williams, II describes his early interest in music
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Russell Williams, II recalls the uprisings after the death of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Russell Williams, II recalls the music of his youth
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Russell Williams, II describes his decision to attend American University in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Russell Williams, II describes his experiences at American University in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Russell Williams, II describes the anti-war movement at American University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Russell Williams, II remembers being tapped by the Selective Service System
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Russell Williams, II describes his college radio show, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Russell Williams, II describes his college radio show, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Russell Williams, II recalls the Hanafi siege of the District Building in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Russell Williams, II remembers joining WRC-TV in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Russell Williams, II remembers the Watergate hearings
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Russell Williams, II talks about the importance of sound in films
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Russell Williams, II describes his decision to move to California
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Russell Williams, II describes the film industry in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Russell Williams, II describes his early television work
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Russell Williams, II describes his transition to feature films
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Russell Williams, II describes the production of 'Field of Dreams'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Russell Williams, II recalls being hired for the film 'Glory'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Russell Williams, II describes the plot of the film 'Glory'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Russell Williams, II remembers the production of 'Glory'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Russell Williams, II describes his sound mixing equipment
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Russell Williams, II talks about Denzel Washington
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Russell Williams, II recalls winning his first Academy Award
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Russell Williams, II remembers winning his first Primetime Emmy Award
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Russell Williams, II remembers winning his second Academy Award
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Russell Williams, II reflects upon his success
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Russell Williams, II remembers working with William Friedkin
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Russell Williams, II describes his approach to sound production
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Russell Williams, II recalls the production of 'Dances with Wolves'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Russell Williams, II remembers the production of '12 Angry Men'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Russell Williams, II describes the filming of 'The Temptations' miniseries
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Russell Williams, II talks about his work on Spike Lee's films
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Russell Williams, II describes his decision to return to Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Russell Williams, II talks about his children
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Russell Williams, II reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Russell Williams, II reflects upon his legacy