On the EastSide | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

On the EastSide

With the Kickstarter campaign for “EastSiders” complete, Kit Williamson wants to make the web series bigger and better than ever.

With the Kickstarter campaign for “EastSiders” complete, Kit Williamson wants to make the web series bigger and better than ever.

After a wildly successful, yet nerve-wracking Kickstarter campaign to fund season two of his critically acclaimed web series "EastSiders," Kit Williamson wants to sleep. No popping Champagne bottles or partying with friends—he wants to eat waffles and go to bed at 9 p.m.

The Jackson native and openly gay actor, writer, director, used to spend a lot of his time sitting at Cups in Fondren reading and writing his favorite quotes into a journal, especially back when he was an intern with the Jackson Free Press while in high school. Eventually, he decided to start his own writing career and pursued the arts at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. He then attended Fordham University in New York, balancing his classes with acting in the off-Broadway play "Talk Radio" by Eric Bogosian. He studied playwrighting at the University of California, Los Angeles.

When he's not playing Ed Gifford on AMC's "Mad Men," Williamson now writes and stars in his web series, "EastSiders." The series, distributed by Viacom's Logo TV, focuses on LGBTQ relationships, and with the success of the Kickstarter campaign, the series is on its way to a second season. Williamson aims to make the project bigger and better.

Over the last month, Williamson relentlessly scoured the depths of social media, posting updates on his Kickstarter campaign for his LGBTQ-centric show.

"I think (Kickstarter) is really changing the game for filmmakers, especially LGBT filmmakers and new media filmmakers because there isn't currently a lot of financing to go around for these kinds of projects," he says.

He had doubts about reaching his goal of $125,000 for the web series, going back and forth with his emotions between absolute terror and complete excitement. He worried about putting his show's fate in the hands of other people, but he took the risk.

Now, with more than $153,000, Williamson and the "EastSiders" crew met all their goals: funding for production of season two, the ability to publish an "EastSiders" graphic novel and have funding for two extra episodes.

In the series, Williamson plays Cal, who, early in season one, finds out that his boyfriend, Thom, cheated on him. The series focuses on Cal and Thom's relationship, along with others.

While people assume the show is autobiographical, Williamson assures you it's not, even though he shares an affinity for two shots of whiskey and PBR with Cal. "I wanted to create a show with gay characters I could relate to," he said in an interview. "I wanted to play a gay character because, in my career, I was never given the opportunity to play anything other than a straight counterculture kid."

With the project funded, Williamson hopes to expand the ensemble and make the "EastSiders" world bigger in regards to the types of relationships to explore. Along with a lesbian relationship storyline, Williamson is bringing on Willam Belli of "RuPaul's Drag Race." Along with a larger cast and crew, funds will go toward more production elements and camera equipment.

"Managing a project like this is new for me, and I'm really excited for the challenge because I would love to direct more TV shows one day or direct a larger budget movie and have my projects grow," he said.

During the campaign, Williamson conversed with a donor from Batesville, Miss., and discovered that he was a friend of his grandfather.

"I'm just filled with gratitude and overwhelmed from all of the people who have contributed to making this project a reality," Williamson says. "... It's just so amazing to me that you can connect with people in Australia and the Netherlands and New York City and California and also back home in the state of Mississippi. ... It's really beautiful to me that people can find each other in this way."

To watch "EastSiders," visit logotv.com.

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