Photography | Johnnie Kornegay II  Edit | Reginald Bibb

Photography | Johnnie Kornegay II

Edit | Reginald Bibb

 Photographer: Aliah Rosenthal

Photographer: Aliah Rosenthal

Marcus “Emel” Williams is the author of five published collections of poetry: Love and Other Drugs: A Collection of Original Poetry, 143, The Man I Wanted to See, Crazypipe, and most recently The Wall.

Marcus began his professional artistic journey in 2012. “I got the acting bug in High School, but I have loved reader’s theatre since I was younger. During the last semester of college, I had a teaching internship in West Sussex, England and I had the opportunity to go to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre to see a production of Les Misrebles. I was in awe of the lights and costumes and songs and actors. Being in the theatre made me feel alive.”

His first professional acting moment came by way of Marcus Raby of Birmingham, Alabama and from that point, Marcus knew that art was the way to go. “I felt at home in the acting community, although I never considered my self an ‘actor’...people were working really hard for that title and I was just starting my exploration.”

In 2012, Marcus received a phone call that his estranged father, Aubrey Joseph Lewis, was in the hospital with a terminal cancer. “I was angry. I was angry that I hadn’t known him, I was sad to find out about his diagnosis, but I was angry at everything and everyone. I felt like it wasn’t fair. I didn’t let it stop me from learning all I could from him in those last nine days of his life tho.” It was during these nine days that Marcus discovered that his father was an artist as well, evidenced through drawings, writings, and his sci-fi book collection. “I always wondered why I chose art. Most of my family played sports.”

Following his father’s death, Marcus wrote and published his first collection of poetry under his pen name, Marcus Emel (Emel is the combination of the phonetic spellings of [Marcus’s ] middle initial and [Aubrey’s] last initial). That same year, Marcus moved to Atlanta to develop his artistic gifts.

While in Atlanta, Marcus joined the community theatre scene and was part of productions at Out of Box Theatre, Lionheart Theatre among others. In 2015, he co-produced and starred in a dinner theatre production of Jeff Stetson’s “The Meeting” as Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr. “While I was studying for the role, I was inspired not to put myself in the box and to just live my best life by staying true to my passions as did Dr. King.”

“My poetry is based in my truths. My truth as a black man. My truth as a queer/gay individual. My truth as a kid who took the only skill in which he was confident and taught himself to look beyond limits.”

Marcus “Emel” Williams is currently an Artist-In-Residence at HB Studios Mass Transit Theatre in NYC. “Someone told me that your story starts the day you decide to tell the truth. It’s not easy. Just remember that there is no finish line, the only option is to push forward.”