Introducing Willis Ajamu Brooks; An Actor Paving His Way Within The Community

Introducing Willis Ajamu Brooks; An Actor Paving His Way Within The Community

Willis Ajamu Brooks (right) with Jessica Tasciotti. From the set of The Flick at the JCC Center Stage. Photos courtesy of Willis.

You first met Che in Rochester works for actor Che Holloway, an impromptu interview and amble through the Neighborhood of the Arts.

An aspiring and successful actor, Che is deeply immersed in the Rochester cultural scene. So much so, we’ve named him Che of The Town!

Exclusively for Talker, Che has solicited and is conducting interviews from about 50 Rochestarians working in a diversity of creative fields.

For the full series, see Che of The Town: Interviews

Today, Che features a fellow School of the Arts alum, Willis Ajamu Brooks. Willis recently finished a run of the critically acclaimed The Flick at the JCC Center Stage in the lead role of Avery. In July, he will play Angus in the Wallbyrd production of MacBeth. Willis has also modeled for the Jordan Health Campaign for HIV Awareness whose billboards can be found around Rochester.willis 2

Introducing Willis Ajamu Brooks; An Actor Paving His Way Within The Community

In this highlight, we turn our attention to Willis Ajamu Brooks a talented warm hearted actor making waves within the community.

I asked Willis a series of questions. Here is what we discussed.

Tell us a little about yourself, where you are from, grew up, what H.S./College you attended etc.

I am a PROUD graduate of School of The Arts class of 2012. I called this amazing building home for 6 years of my life and it really served as my platform, jump off, and playground for the world of entertainment and acting. I was just a film, and entertainment industry admirer before that school, so I owe it a lot. I recently acquired my Associates degree in Communications and Media Studies from MCC, a feat that took 2 more than it was supposed to due to….let’s say drive and discipline or lack thereof when it came to school. Haha

What inspired you to be an artist/entertainer? Early experiences worth sharing?

When it comes to what inspired me to become an entertainer and actor. I sort of find that to be a difficult question up until a solid month ago I didn’t consider myself to be either. SOTA was my gateway into that world, but that was 2012 it is 2017! For the last 5 years I’ve been trying to figure out who Willis Ajamu Brooks is, and I’d be lying if I said I’ve got the answer. My New Year’s Resolution is really what I owe my last few amazing experiences of this year too. I promised myself that I would not say “no” to any opportunities be they artistic or possibly fulfilling in a mental way. So I’ve been really stepping out of my comfort zone. And loving every minute of it. And it lead me back to the world of acting and entertaining.willis 1

Talk about a time where you have faced adversity/conflict and have triumphed.

I personally believe I face adversity everyday as a 23 yr. old with sickle cell anemia, I’m literally admitted to an emergency room once every three months for a crisis. So it can be hard to keep appointments, jobs, and even maintain relationships with my friends and family when I can be put out of commission at any given time. That being said, I love life, I love myself, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What do you believe sets you apart from other artists/entertainers?

I think my laidback attitude and NEED to always have fun sets me apart from other actors and entertainers. As an actor you walk into an audition and there are probably 50+ other individuals who want to succeed just as much if not more than you do. They’re serious, they’re scowling, and they look like the world is on their shoulders. I’m the guy smiling, talking to everyone who makes eye contact with me, asking if you’re team PS4 or XBOX. I learned life is short at a very young age so I don’t feel any moment should be wasted not being happy and having fun if you can. I’m just as anxious, nervous, and confused as the next guy, but that’s not going to stop me from being myself. You can still have fun and give 110% at whatever you’re doing.willis 6

Do you have other interests or hobbies?

My first love believe it or not is not acting. I’m a gamer first, once a month you can find me at A Gamers Nostalgia a local arcade in Rochester at the Mortal Kombat and Tekken tournaments. I travel to tournaments, I watch tournaments, and I practice a lot. Gaming bought my college books one semester! I always think to myself I have the weirdest group of hobbies. Acting, Videogames, Dungeons and Dragons, Shakespeare, anime, and I love to Yo-Yo.

Any projects you have out or currently working on?

willis 4

From the set of The Flick at the JCC Center Stage. (l-r) William McDonough, Jessica Tasciotti and Willis.

I just finished an awesome run of The Flick at the JCC as the lead role of Avery, I did a job as a model for the Jordan Health Campaign for HIV awareness so I’m currently on a few billboards around the city, and I just got cast as Angus in the upcoming Wallbyrd production of MacBeth which will open in July!

with Jack Garner and Ralph Meranto

From the set of The Flick at the JCC Center Stage. Film critic Jack Garner (center) with cast members.

Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?

Where I see myself is the hardest question anyone can ask me. You see the major downside to being so laid back and carefree is the lack of a plan! I’ve never had grand dreams to become rich and famous I do everything that I do out of genuine love for it. Everywhere that my hobbies have taken me and allowed me to accomplish has been truly magical and amazing. I can say that I am going to take an extended trip to NYC in the near future and wherever life takes me I’m up for it, with a smile.

What advice can you give to aspiring artists/entertainers?

The only advice I can give to an aspiring actor/entertainer is treat everything like improv. Never say no, never stop the flow of life by being afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

How can we follow along in your journey? Social media?

You can find me on Facebook at Willis Ajamu Brooks, Instagram and Twitter @will_I_shutup and the answer is No


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Emerging artists coming of age in Rochester at the Corn Hill Arts Festival

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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