We had the good fortune of connecting with Milan Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Milan, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
This question, without a doubt, is the hardest for me to answer… it is not a question that provides a definite right or wrong response. It is based solely on intuition. Which for most is scary. I know for myself it is. Often my gut feeling would terrify me. I envied those who could know right away the path they needed to take, for the need to second guess and double-check has always been a nagging fly in my ear and to finally be faced with the question to either keep going or quit, had always given me goosebumps. However. With many crossroads that arise as we make our journey’s through our lives, we are often met with this same sinking feeling. Do I continue? Or do I cut my losses? Is it better to have quit before I am rejected or is it better to have dreamed, if only it remains in the recesses of my mind? So many times I have found myself debating the outcome of a decision. In my accidental research, I have found that the question will never go away. There is not a predictable outcome to anything in our lives, life in itself is unpredictable. And for a person who likes to be in control, it can be rather unnerving having that realization. But the one piece of advice that has carried me thus far, is that If there is a possibility that I may be alone in the decision I made and I am okay with that – then it is the right decision. Often we are dictated by the reactions of others. Should I go for this career, what will my colleagues think or date this person, what will my family say? I found that when I based my decisions on the caprices of others, I will always be disappointed. Often tough decisions may result in others not agreeing or even understanding. I knew becoming a filmmaker would provide me a whole new set of problems, that being a motion graphics designer did not. I knew being a cinematographer, behind the camera, in a male-dominated field would prove more difficult than being an actress, in front of a camera. The decisions I have made in my life sometimes did not provide clear and direct paths … but I always knew, that feeling of doing something I have no passion for, will always disappoint me. If I don’t know the final outcome, but am certain that I cannot go back to where I started; I know the decision to keep going is the right one.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a Filmmaker and Motion Graphics Designer. My journey has always been inspired by the human condition, from short films to advertisements – People at the center of the work, is what motivates me. My professional path started when I became the First ISTA Creative Intern across all of PayPal’s North American offices. Immediately after graduating, I took a summer to work at PAYPAL headquarters in Silicon Valley, San Jose, CA. This job although quite corporate and very different from what my art school-angsty-personality was used to, gave me so much opportunity to build myself up as an independent creative. I was an in-house photographer for events. I made promos shown across North America, I made a documentary, and got to meet so many amazing minds – from Google, Facebook, Apple, etc. This experience allowed me to cultivate my voice and understand myself as a filmmaker. It also gave me the experience of understanding the mind of a computer engineer and seeing that we are all connected regardless of our professions, we all go through the same things and are passionate about our work. It was then that I made the hard decision to go back to school for my Masters in Film and Television – I am happy to say I am now an MFA graduate from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and have had the opportunity to work for companies like Wieden+Kennedy; participating in campaigns for Nike, GirlGaze and Old Spice. The experience has propelled me in ways that I could not imagine. I am now a freelance Filmmaker and Motion Graphics Designer and have my own LLC – Mimsterunnie LLC, in which I create content for various clients utilizing my Film and Motion Graphics skills. Being creative is hard…being creative and trying to make a living is even harder. Often you are faced with the doubt of if the profession you chose was a good choice or the easy choice. For myself, coming to terms with the journey of a Filmmaker definitely was based on the idea of my love for it. Ever since I was a child I was in love with cinema. I quoted A Few Good Men (1992) “ You can’t handle the truth!”, and reenacted iconic scenes from Jerry Maguire (1996) while wanting to be every bit of the “ Ambassador of Quan ”. Movies that molded my entire persona, it would be an utter disservice not to give back to the cinematic zeitgeist that made me who I am today. In this journey, there have been many ups and downs and I have no doubt there will continue to be days that shake me up … but a life lived within the fear of the possibility of failure or difficulty is not a life lived at all. If I learned anything through my continuous journey on this Earth is that, living each day with the idea of learning something new about myself or the work I do, is what truly keeps me going in this industry. My brand is people-driven. For example, I currently have a Wellness Series entitled ‘IKIGAI’ that addresses mental health and the importance of discussing it. It is works like these that keep me motivated, for the purpose is bigger than myself and that’s the best part.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Wow. Favorite spots in San Diego? There are so many but, I would have to say my favorite place to go and marvel at nature and shrink my worries would be Sunset Cliffs. The view is spectacular and surreal. I am a bit of a thrill-seeker, so being on the edge of a cliff thrills me. The vast expansion of water takes me out of anything I am stressing about. I’d definitely eat at Hawaiian BBQ heaven a.k.a L&L Hawaiian BBQ, I lived in Hawaii as a kid and always loved Hawaiian BBQ, so when I came to San Diego, my instant pull toward L&L was inevitable. Lastly, the place I would visit is my grandfather’s home. It is one place where art, landscaping, and peace can be found. My grandfather has always been a person I can go to for a prayer, a funny story, or to expand my artistic mind ( he is an accomplished musician, painter, and landscaper ) and I always leave with a plant or an instrument… right now, I have a harp.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many wonderful people who have contributed to my creative journey, but I would love to shoutout my Best Friend Sydnee Robertson. A person who has seen me in unimaginable lows and uplifting highs. Whose own talent inspires me more than words, from painting, screenwriting, visual effects etc. She really does it all. Please follow her Instagram page for beautiful works of art! IG: @_syd_theKidd Also, my beautiful parents who would drive 9 hours to pick me up from college as an undergrad, countless flights across the country, making sure I am settled in whatever quirky new place I was working in… their support, is beyond amazing and it only makes me work harder to make sure their sacrifices do not go in vain.
Instagram: @mimsterunnie | Wellness Series IG: @ikigai_bymimster
Other: Wellness Series and Lifestyle Blog – http://www.mimsterunnie.com/ikigai-wellness-blog New episodes air every other Monday at 10 pm PST
Photos of Milan shot by Anna Suncar Scott McCusker