Screenwriter, filmmaker, playwright, actor, professor, activist
Kevin Willmott is an award-winning screenwriter, filmmaker, playwright, actor, professor and activist.
Kevin co-wrote and is the Executive Producer of the critically acclaimed film, Chi-Raq, directed by Spike Lee and starring Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson, Angela Bassett, John Cusack, and Samuel L. Jackson. This was the first film released by Amazon Studios, the original content division of Amazon.com. The film is on numerous best of 2015 lists including best film and best screenplay of 2015 by The New Yorker Magazine, which called it “a later-day masterwork—perhaps his best film to date”.
Willmott’s feature film, Jayhawkers, tells the story of a group of unlikely allies who modernized college sports and changed Kansas University during the early stages of the Civil Rights movement. Jayhawkers stars Kip Niven (“Magnum Force,” “Return to Lonesome Dove”) as Coach Phog Allen, Jay Karnes (“The Shield,” “Burn Notice” “Gang Related”) as Chancellor Franklin Murphy and Trai Byers ( “Empire” “Selma”) as jazz musician Nathan Davis. The film also features former KU basketball player, Justin Wesley as Wilt Chamberlain.
Willmott, wrote, directed and acted in the award winning film, Destination Planet Negro! The film made its debut in London in December of 2014 as part of the African Odysseys series sponsored by the British Film Institute. The film was distributed by Candy Factory.
Willmott wrote and directed the critically acclaimed feature film C.S.A: Confederate States Of America, about America, had the South won the Civil War. After its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, IFC Films purchased the film for domestic theatrical distribution. The film is presented by Spike Lee. CSA was released theatrically in the U.S. by IFC and was distributed in several foreign countries.
The Only Good Indian, 2009, starring Wes Studi (Avatar, Last of the Mohicans), J. Kenneth Campbell (Bulworth, Yulee’s Gold) and newcomer Winter Fox Frank, premiered at The Sundance Film Festival. The Only Good Indian was written and produced by Thomas L. Carmody. The film was shown on the Encore and Movieplex television networks, and can be streamed online at Netflix.
The award winning The Battle for Bunker Hill, 2008, starring NYPD Blue’s James McDaniel, Saeed Jaffrey (Gandhi), Laura Kirk (Lisa Picard is Famous), Kevin Geer (American Gangster) and Blake Robbins (Oz, The Office). Willmott is producer and director of Bunker Hill, from a script he wrote with Greg Hurd.
Ninth Street, an independent feature film starring Martin Sheen and Isaac Hayes, was written, produced and co-directed by Willmott. He also played the role of “Huddie” one of the films main characters. Ninth Street was released by Ideal.
For television, Willmott co-wrote with Mitch Brian House Of Getty and The 70’s, both mini-series for NBC. THE 70’s aired on ABC in May of 2000. In 2005, he produced High-Tech Lincoln, a special which premiered on The History Channel.
As a screenwriter, Willmott co-wrote Shields Green and The Gospel Of John Brown with Mitch Brian. The script was purchased by Chris Columbus’ 1492 Productions for 20th Century Fox. He has also co-wrote Civilized Tribes for producer Robert Lawrence and 20th Century Fox.
Producer and director Oliver Stone hired him to co-write Little Brown Brothers, about the Philippine Insurrection and to adapt the book Marching to Valhalla by Michael Blake.
Willmott recently adapted and directed a stage version of The Watsons Go to Birmingham in New York and at Kansas City’s Coterie Theater. The play T-Money And Wolf, written with Ric Averill, dealing with the holocaust and contemporary gang violence, was selected as part of the New Vision/New Voices series produced by the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. The play is published by Dramatic Publishing.
Willmott directed the premiere performances of Now Let Me Fly, a new play by Marcia Cebulska commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision to segregate public schools. The performances featured actors James McDaniel (NYPD Blue), Roger Aaron Brown (The District) and Yolanda King, and musical performers Queen Bey and Kelley Hunt.
Willmott grew up in Junction City, Kansas and attended Marymount College receiving his BA in Drama. After graduation, he returned home, working as a peace and civil rights activist, fighting for the rights of the poor, creating two Catholic Worker shelters for the homeless and forcing the integration of several long standing segregated institutions. He attended graduate studies at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, receiving several writing awards and his M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing.
Willmott is a Professor in the Media and Film Studies Department of Kansas University.