Please introduce yourself. What do you do? Why? What do you want people to know about you?
My name is Tony Winters. I am an award-winning actor who has written a few things and produced even fewer.
I’ve been an actor for more than 40 years – professionally for almost 35. I’ve amassed what some consider a voluminous resume with more than 100 IMDb film and television credits.
In my career, I say in all modesty, I’ve done it all. I’ve acted in every format available to the modern actor – commercials, soaps, voiceovers, web series, situation comedies, video games, episodics, TV movies, and theatrical films. I’ve had the great honor of working with several Academy Award and Emmy winners.
I’ve written several screenplays and, to date, have produced two of them. I’ve also produced two stage plays, one of which I wrote, and my productions have garnered 4 NAACP Theater Award nominations.
What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?
At this juncture, what makes me different and unique, is my midwestern upbringing. At the end of the day, I’m a nice midwestern, African American, man. I cannot escape that. I like to believe that I bring a touch of Henry Fonda and James Stewart, also two nice midwestern men, to every role I play – with an African American slant.
Also, I just “get it”. Screen acting. I always have. It comes easily to me. I have, through years of study, auditions, and performances learned to quickly find the truth of the character and present it. It’s a skill one has to develop in the fast-paced world of television.
Additionally, I have a keen sense of knowing where the “top” is for a character and a show how to avoid going over it. These qualities have helped make me an in-demand talent for decades.
Describe THAT moment when you realized you’re doing what you were born to do.
I’d always dreamed of being an actor but growing up in 1970s Detroit, it did not seem possible.
However, the summer between my junior and senior year of high school my mother sent my younger brother and me on a Greyhound bus to San Diego to spend the summer with our father. It was a life-changing experience.
I saw southern California for the first time – palm trees, clear blue skies, the Pacific Ocean, Disneyland, and HOLLYWOOD! I vividly recall driving up, what I now know to be Gower Street, and passing Paramount Studios, and seeing “Happy Days” on one of the marquees. “Wow!” I remember thinking, “The Fonz” is in there somewhere.
We went on to take the Universal Studios Tour. I was mesmerized and hung on every word our tour guide uttered. At one point the tram had to stop and everyone had to be quiet because they were shooting an exterior scene for a TV show called Operation Petticoat. At that moment, I had a revelation. I thought in Detroit we make cars, trucks, and tires but in Hollywood, they make TV shows, movies, and music.
The dream, at that moment, suddenly became tangible. I didn’t know how or when. But one day I was moving to Hollywood. It would take 6 years but I did it. And I became a tour guide at Universal Studios. That was my first job in Los Angeles.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to go through and how did you grow through it?
My biggest challenge has been righting my life since the trauma of divorce.
My professional vision for my life has always been clear. Personally, not so much. Dating at my age has its share of challenges, to say the least. Dating apps, bars, and clubs do not seem to work well for those of us of a certain age. So we must cast our nets wider.
She’s out there somewhere. In church? A yoga class? The gym? The hopeless romantic in me continues to believe. That said, I have resolved to find my happy place again and a significant other in 2022.
Who are the TOP 3 people you’d want to meet that could elevate your career or business? Why these specific individuals?
Will Packer, Lena Waithe, and Yvette Lee Bowser.
I like what Packer is doing in terms of feature films. He has elevated the African American experience from ‘hood dramas and silly romcoms to more sophisticated genres.
I’ve been a fan of Waithe’s before she blew up. She has a vision that is uniquely hers and is a totally original artist.
Bowser makes me laugh. I love her shows. She captures African American life like nobody else.