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Oscar winner, KU professor Kevin Willmott shares his love of activism, Kansas and teaching

Tuesday, June 9, 2020
A group of faculty members stand by Kevin Willmott, who holds his Academy Award in the center
 
UDK | Ryan Dinsdale
 
Screenwriter and film professor Kevin Willmott won an Oscar in 2019, and two days later, he was teaching a class back at the University of Kansas. Now, his most recent film — "Da 5 Bloods," directed by Spike Lee — is set to premiere on Netflix on Friday, June 12.
 
Willmott was born in Junction City and now lives in Lawrence, where he teaches film and media studies at the University. Even as a successful filmmaker with bigger film markets available to him, Willmott has stayed home.
 
“The fact I grew up in Kansas is a big thing for me,” Willmott said. “It’s left its mark. People move away to live in New York, or L.A. or Chicago, but you still care about home.”
 
Willmott said Kansas lets him relax and balance his crazy work schedule that jumps from teaching, to writing, to meeting with industry professionals.
 
“I love traveling, and I love visiting those places, and I love going there to do work,” Willmott said, “But I like coming home where life’s a lot easier.”
 
The University helps with that too. It’s always supported Willmott’s film career, understanding his split work commitment, which has only reinforced his desire to stay in Kansas. 
 
“Lawrence has become a part of my history that I really love,” he said.
 
When he returned from college after receiving a master’s degree at New York University, Willmott stayed in Junction City.
 
But before he left, he said the city was wrought with racism.
 
“Then I got out of college, in 1984, and it was still that way,” he said. “It was still segregated, and I felt like somebody needed to say something.” Read more....


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