Eboni Weighs-In on New Show and on Turmoil at Fox

 

Eboni K. Williams 

“The Fox News Specialists” Interview

with Kam Williams

Eboni Weighs-In on New Show and on Turmoil at Fox

Eboni K. Williams, Esquire joined the Fox News Network in September 2015,  sharing her insights and analysis as a contributor on “Outnumbered,” “The Five” and other programs. Prior to joining Fox, she served as a CBS News correspondent, an HLN contributor and a talk radio host in Los Angeles on AM 640.

Eboni K. Williams,   "The Fox News Specialists” Interview with Kam Williams, Communications and African-American Studies, Hurricane Katrina, public defender, North Carolina, Fox News Channel

Eboni received a B.A. in Communications and African-American Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a J.D. from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. She  began her professional career in Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina where she clerked for the Louisiana Secretary of State and the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office while still a law student.

She has also worked for a number of politicians, including New Orleans City Council members, assisting in the effort to rebuild the city. She subsequently specialized in Family Law and Civil Litigation, providing counsel in high-profile divorces, spousal support, and child custody cases.

In 2008, she transitioned to a public defender and went back to private practice in 2010 in both North Carolina and the Greater Los Angeles area. She has represented clients in criminal matters, too, including murders, rapes, high volume drug cases, sex crimes and federal offenses.

Here, she talks about her new series, “The Fox News Specialists,” co-hosted by Eric Bolling and Katherine Timpf. The show airs weekdays at 5 pm ET on the Fox News Channel.

Kam Williams: Hi, Eboni, how are you?

Eboni K. Williams: I’m well, Kam. How are you doing?

KW: Great! Thanks so much for the time. Congratulations on landing the new series.

EKW: Oh, thank you so much. It was all quite sudden, as I’m sure you could see. But it all feels pretty exciting and, yeah, we’re thrilled about it.

KW: I recognized your talent right of the bat, and pegged you as a rising star. That’s why, when I interviewed you last fall, I predicted you’d get your own show in a year and a half. But you did it in just six months. 

EKW: Yeah. For those who don’t know my full background, it’s important to note that I had my very first appearance on the Fox Network in July of 2013, on the 12th, I think. The segment lives on in infamy on Youtube. I was on O’Reilly’s The Factor discussing the George Zimmerman verdict. He’d just been found not guilty of killing Trayvon Martin. That was the genesis of my relationship with the network. From there, I was an unpaid guest for almost two years before I landed other network roles as a contributor and correspondent. But technically, our relationship did start in 2013. So, that’s kind of been the evolution of it.    

KW: How long was The Fox News Specialists in the making?

EKW: I only heard about the show fairly recently, directly from the executives. But I couldn’t tell you how long they’d been planning it. All I can say is that I was very excited to be invited to take part in it, especially by the idea of casting myself, Eric and Kat. It was a very deliberate choice to combine not only our divergent political voices, coming from the standpoints of an independent, a conservative and a Libertarian, respectively, but also our differing perspectives on life, with Kat being a humorist and writer, Eric having had a career in both sports and finance, and my having had a career in the law and also in the consulting space. We are people who come from three different worlds. We have different cultural backgrounds. We come from different generations…   We have different family dynamics… So,  I think the network is valuing all that and what our dialogue will sound like. And then, they’ll be making it even more intriguing by  adding two brand new voices to the mix every day. Two of the five hosts will be newcomers contributing fresh perspectives to the topics. I think this was a lot of the thought behind the planning of the show.    

Eboni K. Williams,   "The Fox News Specialists” Interview with Kam Williams, Communications and African-American Studies, Hurricane Katrina, public defender, North Carolina, Fox News Channel

KW: This has been a period of considerable upheaval at Fox, between the allegations of sexual harassment and the racial discrimination lawsuit. Yet, despite being black and female, you’ve somehow successfully negotiated those dangerous waters, and continued your meteoric rise. Bravo!

EKW: Well, thank you. did you read my statement I made about the situation in the New York Times? This was a few weeks ago, before Bill O’Reilly’s departure.

KW: Sorry, I missed it. What did you say? 

EKW: I thought it was important, as a woman at the network, to speak out. I echoed some of the sentiments of my colleague, Kelly Wright. Whether some people think we don’t belong at Fox News on the basis of our gender or race, we do deserve to be there. We deserve the opportunity to do the work we want to do wherever we want to do it. I think it’s important for people to understand that we’re not going to be limited by anybody else’s expectations. I also think it’s important that my background be represented anywhere I see fit. I have proudly chosen to work at Fox because it has a captive audience that perhaps is not all that exposed to people with my cultural, racial and generational background. My point-of-view is unique, particularly for its audience. And I enjoy being able to engage in dialogue and exchange ideas with the likes of Eric Bolling, Sean Hannity and others from different social circumstances. I think that’s good for our country, and good for the world. It’s a way we can all grow as humans, as Christians, and as Americans.

KW: I agree. I don’t know whether you’re aware of it, but even when you were away on vacation in Paris a few weeks ago, your name would still occasionally be brought up by your colleagues on Outnumbered. For instance, I remember Meghan McCain saying something very positive about you, as she speculated where you’d stand on the issue they were discussing.

EKW: Oh, that warms my heart, not only from an emotional place, but from a credibility standpoint. When I say, “I’m proud to be working at Fox News,” that’s not me putting on blinders to the very real challenges we’re facing as a network. I am both aware of and am actively working to help rectify cultural problems at our network, as the Murdochs themselves have accounted for. Things need fixing. I’m aware of that. and I believe they’re aware of it. At the same time, I am proud to work alongside people like Meghan McCain who, although we often differ politically, we have a mutual respect for each other’s backgrounds and experiences. And like I said before, that’s where the potential for growth is.   

KW: Thanks again, Eboni, and best of luck with the new show.

EKW: Thank you, Kam.

 

Eboni K. Williams,   "The Fox News Specialists” Interview with Kam Williams, Communications and African-American Studies, Hurricane Katrina, public defender, North Carolina, Fox News Channel

Source:  New York Weekly

Caro on the Straight and Narrow

 

Niki Caro,  "The Zookeeper's Wife” Interview, New Zealand, Director/screenwriter, Whale Rider, North Country, Holocaust, Jessica ChastainNiki Caro

“The Zookeeper’s Wife” Interview

with Kam Williams
Caro on the Straight and Narrow

Director/screenwriter Niki Caro is one of the most successful filmmakers to emerge from New Zealand. After completing a BFA at Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland, as well as a Postgraduate Diploma in Film from Swinburne in Melbourne, Australia, Niki wrote and directed a number of highly-acclaimed shorts.

Sure to Rise screened at the 1994 Cannes International Film Festival, and Footage was shown at the 1996 Venice International Film Festival. Her first full-length feature, Memory & Desire, focused on a Japanese married couple and was selected for Critics Week at the 1998 Cannes International Film Festival. It went on to win four New Zealand Film and Television Awards, including Best Film.

Niki’s sophomore offering, Whale Rider, explored the Maori community of Whangara on New Zealand’s East Coast, and made an impact globally. Whale Rider was seen by millions of people and won over two dozen prizes around the world, including top honors at the Toronto (the People’s Choice Award), Sundance (the Audience Award), Rotterdam, San Francisco, Maui, and Seattle (Best Film) Film Festivals. The film’s star Keisha Castle-Hughes landed an Academy Award nomination for Best Lead Actress, becoming what was then the youngest nominee ever in the category.

Niki next directed North Country, a drama set on the Iron Range in Northern Minnesota. The film starred Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Sissy Spacek and Woody Harrelson. Theron and McDormand were nominated for Oscars in the Best Lead Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories, respectively.

Continuing to illuminate real lives and real communities onscreen, Niki directed the sleeper hit McFarland, USA, starring Kevin Costner. Set in California’s Central Valley, the inspirational docudrama chronicled the real-life exploits of an all-Latino cross-country track team.

Here, Niki talks about her new film, The Zookeeper’s Wife, a World War II biopic starring Jessica Chastain as an intrepid heroine who saved hundreds of Jews from the Holocaust.

Niki Caro,  "The Zookeeper's Wife” Interview, New Zealand, Director/screenwriter, Whale Rider, North Country, Holocaust, Jessica Chastain

Kam Williams: Hi Niki, thanks for the interview. I’m honored to have this opportunity to speak with you.

Niki Caro: Oh, that’s very kind of you to say, Kam.

KW: I love all your films. In fact, your last one, McFarland, USA, was #13 on my Top 100 list for 2015.

NC: That’s amazing! You’ve made my day.

KW: I was really moved by it, as I was by this one. I went into the theater a little skeptical about the plot. Even though it’s true, a story about a woman saving both zoo animals and hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust just sounded a little farfetched. Yet, you had me weeping by the end of the picture.

NC: Great!

KW: What interested you in The Zookeeper’s Wife?

NC: The radical humanity of the Zabinskis.

KW: Was that from reading the book?

NC: No, I’m ashamed to have to admit I hadn’t. Neither had I ever heard of Antonina Zabinski [played by Jessica Chastain], let alone of the role she played in history. Here was this intriguing story in script form that I couldn’t believe was true. And yet it was. I felt it offered a really new way to talk about the Holocaust, a way that really spoke about heart, hope and humanity. And about feelings too.

KW: The movie has many tasteful touches of humor. How did you manage to do that without offending the audience? How do you know what humor will or won’t work when you’re dealing with such serious subject matter? It must be hard making sure you don’t cross a line.

NC: Well, I always take my inspiration from the true story, which in this case was Antonina. It was wonderful to me that her instinct to nurture and protect animals translated so effortlessly to the human species. And the way she created a sanctuary was so feminine. That influenced the filmmaking in a very big way. It’s a very feminine look at the Holocaust. It certainly speaks about war in a very feminine fashion. Of course, war didn’t just happen to men, as many war movies suggest. It also happened to women, to children and to animals, and I felt that this film uniquely gave them a voice. And it gave women, in particular, a way to express femininity as strength.

KW: Absolutely! I definitely don’t remember ever seeing war presented so intimately from a woman’s perspective.

NC: Well, there you go. We’re still somewhat unfamiliar with stories being told from a female’s point-of-view. So, i hope that makes this story kind of fresh.

KW: It sure does. After I saw the film, I couldn’t help but wonder why the movie wasn’t released during awards season. This movie has Oscars written all over it.

NC: That wasn’t my decision. There are a whole lot of factors that are weighed in determining when a movie’s released, and none of those determinations are made by the filmmaker. [Laughs] But I’m really happy it’s being released now.

KW: I point it out only because you’ve already directed three actresses to Academy Award nominations, and Jessica Chastain does such a terrific job, here. I just think the film would get serious Oscar consideration, if it were released in November or December.

NC: It still could. And if that is the case, it will really have earned it, because it will have stuck in people’s minds.

KW: What is your secret to coaxing Oscar-quality performances out of actresses?

NC: Gosh! the first secret is in casting really great actresses with whom I can have a genuine collaboration, and remain open to their contributions and their brilliance. I try to create an environment on set where they feel very secure and very supported, so that they can take risks and do what I hope is some of their best work.    

KW: When did you develop your interest in directing? Were you one of those kids who was constantly playing around with a video camera as a child?

NC: No, playing around with video cameras was not from my generation. [Chuckles] I never even saw a movie camera until I was in my late teens. I loved movies, but I didn’t necessarily think I could make them. Growing up in New Zealand, I thought of movies as something that Americans made until I saw a film by Jane Campion.

KW: The Piano?

NC: No, her first film, Sweetie. That movie knocked me sideways. I couldn’t believe it, because I recognized it. And I must admit it’s super-weird. But, for the first time, I saw something I recognized from my own world. That gave me a huge amount of confidence. And I remain incredibly inspired by her.I’m a great, big fan of hers. 

KW: Who are some of your other favorite directors?

NC: Back then, I felt very similarly about the work of another New Zealand filmmaker, Vincent Ward. Now, in terms of what I’ve seen recently. Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight was absolutely stunning. And so was Damien Chazelle’s La La Land. I love musicals. He’s adorable, Damien. A lovely person. And so talented.

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?

NC: I remember the joyousness of sitting in the bath at the age of 3, listening to the radio with my dad and singing “Me and Bobby McGee” at the top of my voice.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

NC: Oh God! [Chuckles] I see myself.

  

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

NC: Sorry, I’m drawing a blank. I’ve been asked so many questions.

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: Do you have a favorite movie monster?   

NC: I want to see that new Kong movie, but monsters isn’t so much my preferred genre.

  

KW: What is your favorite genre?

NC: I love drama, obviously, especially when it’s really human, when it’s funny, and when it lifts me out of my world. And I love documentary, too.

KW: Tell me a little about your upcoming film, Callas. I assume that’s about Maria Callas.

NC: Yes, it’s a project I’ve been working on for a very long time, and won’t be making in the near future, because I’m moving on to Mulan. But Maria is very special to me.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

NC: I have two passports, a picture of my mother, my brother and me on a very unremarkable-looking beach. And some pictures of my kids, and a bunch of airline cards.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Niki, and best of luck with the film.

NC: Thank you so much, Kam. Have a good evening.

Source:  GIG News