GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – William Jackson has come a long way since his time at Ottawa Hills High School.
He’s known in the hip-hop community as Willie The Kid, and has worked with the likes of Lil Wayne and DJ Drama.
But he’s back to work in the city that started it all.
“I owe this to the town,” Jackson said. “This town made me. Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s all worth nothing if I can’t bring it back home and make that valuable here.”
Jackson is teaming up with more local talent to make a movie – a short film called The Fly.
“The Fly is about a bartender in Grand Rapids, Michigan that has a secret identity,” executive producer Scott Erickson, another West Michigan native, said. “The secret is he’s an underground music star online, but he’s never shown his face to the public.”
Willie is the film’s star, with Michigan native Kevin Budzynski as the director.
It’s an exciting chance to show the city through a whole new lens.
“I love this city,” Budzynski said. “It’s given me a lot of opportunities, met a lot of interesting people to progress my career, so to do a film that kind of highlights the city and highlights the people of the city, it’s really rewarding.”
An opening casting call was held on Wednesday and Thursday in downtown Grand Rapids. The crew was searching for more local talent – talent they know comes in droves in the city.
“I think in Grand Rapids,” Erickson said. “There are people that are so creative and so passionate about making things happen for themselves, that they just get together and start collaborating on things.”
And even though Willie’s come far, he knows his opportunities and experiences in Grand Rapids took him there.
“I’m encouraging everybody if you see or know anybody whose working on films like The Fly that we’re doing right now or music or anything from Grand Rapids – be a part of it,” he said. “You don’t wanna be the person that says, ‘Aw, man, I seen that they were doing that and I totally missed out on it.”
Auditions for the film’s lead female role have been extended through Friday. For details, visit the film’s Diligent Music Blog site.