William Haynes is a creator. As a social influencer, digital personality, comedian and rapper he is constantly producing content. He isn’t a guy waiting for a big break. He’ll create one and on his terms. William took control of his own destiny at a young age when he picked up a camera and pressed record for the first time. That camera plus some editing software, mentoring from a local youth center and countless hours of practice made him the seasoned content machine that he is today.
You can catch William regularly on his YouTube channel, WilliamHaynesTV. He recently wrapped production on DisneyXD’s The IGN Show and can be seen next hosting Versus Mode-a digital debate pilot for Steve Harvey’s channels as well as the recurring host on Musical.ly’s newest live gameshow, BEAT THE Q.
Where are you from?
William: I’m from Richmond, California inside the Bay Area. It’s a city right next to San Francisco.
How did you get into acting and hosting?
William: I was a very lonely kid. All kids were bullied in high school. I don’t think it’s original, but I was too. I didn’t have friends. I had a laptop. My dad bought a Mac computer with a camera on it, and I started recording videos of myself talking about my daily experience, and here we are today.
What’s something that’s popular now that you wish would go away?
William: LaCroix! I’m just kidding, I really like LaCroix a lot. I think it’s funny that it wasn’t popular, and it is now. It’s so addicting.
Who was your first celebrity crush?
William: My first celebrity crush was either Raven Symoné from That’s So Raven, or Brenda Song. It was one of those two people. I remember in the fifth grade, I was like, “I think I like girls now.” Disney Channel, thank you.
What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home?
William: Toronto, which isn’t that far. I went to Canada and it was really cold. It felt like America but wasn’t. It was cleaner. Hopefully, by the end of this year, I can go somewhere farther.
What would your best friends say is your worst quality?
William: My best friends would say my worst quality is I lose stuff, like everything. If you let me borrow something, you aren’t going to get it back. All my friends know this. Also remembering things short-term. I have a very good long-term memory but short-term, you tell me something yesterday, I don’t remember what happened yesterday. Two weeks ago maybe. Definitely losing things and not remembering what just happened. My friends would say they’re my worst qualities.
What would they say is your best quality?
William: I don’t think my friends would say I have a best quality.[laughs]
What was your favorite toy as a kid?
William: Oh, boy, what was my favorite toy as a kid? I was a real boring kid. I was an inside person. I never went outside. I never played with my bike or anything. I have none of those memories. When it comes to toys, I had a camera. Honestly, my parents bought me a camera from this “crackhead”. My first camera, and I thought it was the greatest thing because they paid five bucks for it. That’s what my earliest memory of having a fun-toy to do something with.
Who would you say your biggest inspirations are?
Interviewer: I’d say one of my biggest inspiration is Hayao Miyazaki. He is an animation director of movies like Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. I think about him every single day. I wake up, think about his drawings, his creations, and I just want to be able to create something in my life that is as good, and surpasses it. He’s an old man, he’s in his 70’s almost 80’s. I know it’s going to take my life to be able to create images like that, but it drives me every single day. Obviously, like Drake, I want to be able to have my words defining a generation. People like that, whose lives are dedicated to creating something incredible inspires me. I want to be like that.
Do you remember your first experience being in front of a camera on a professional level?
William: My dad was filming movies when I was a kid. He made this movie when I was a kid called Scooter Kids. He and his production company friends all made this movie about kids riding scooters in the bay. I was six years old. That was my first time on camera.
I remember the first time that it really hit me that I was really, really on camera, I was on sci-fi for Comic-Con. William Arnett from Arrested Development was the host of the show, and I was his co-host. I was watching live on TV, and from behind him introducing me to be on the show. I was like, “Oh, I’m on TV now.” That was probably the first time.
Tell us a little about your music aspirations.
William: I make music under the name Arsenio Silverstone. I was raised as a comedian. My whole family is funny people. After a while of making jokes and working professionally at least five years in Los Angeles as a funny person, I realized that there was all of these other emotions that couldn’t go into my comedy work. I think because I’m so work-obsessed that I have to put every single feeling I have out there. I created this moniker Arsenio Silverstone, so that’s where all of those other feelings go. I love making music just as much as I love making jokes. It’s definitely a part of me.
Where can we hear it?
William: My album is going to drop soon. We’re going to drop a lot of music on Spotify, SoundCloud, everywhere on the internet.
How did you come up with that name?
William: I came up with the name Arsenio Silverstone because I didn’t want to do it under my name. I had released a couple mixtapes under my name Will Haynes, and I was like, “I really want to be able to say anything I want just through my emotions.” I was in my apartment complex talking to the apartment manager, and there was a guy that approached who worked at the complex. I never knew his name. The apartment manager was like, “Thank you Arsenio so much for coming in here.” I was like, “That’s it. That’s my new name.” He was talking to him, he said something about the word “Silver”, and I was like, “Oh, that’s the last name. Silverstone.”
If you could share the screen with an actor, past or present, who would it be?
William: Tupac. He was an incredible actor. I learned this week that he was actually an actor before he was a musician, and it makes sense because if you watch his scenes, he’s like so emotionally there and present. I would love to have done a scene with Tupac.
What’s your five-year plan?
William: The next mayoral race is in about four years, I want to win big two terms! If I decide not to do that, I think over the next five years I need to execute every dream and idea I ever had. In my life, what I do is dream. I spend a lot of my day not even talking or thinking. I just spend time figuring out what my brain and creativity wants to see in the real world. Over this next five years, I hope that everything I’ve thought over the last five years, I actually make and create. I want to be able to run out of ideas by 2021, 2022. I want to be out of ideas.
What is a cause that is very important to you?
William: A cause that’s very important to me is clearly, youth. My mom is a school teacher, my grandmother is a school teacher. I went to a youth centre called the RYSE center in Richmond California, where when I was about 14 or 15 they taught me video editing skills. They bought a bunch of Mac computers and taught us how to edit videos and shoot photos. Youth centers like that are super important. There are no resources in towns like the one I’m from. Like Richmond, Oakland, they’re lucky there are companies that put money in to make safe spaces for youth. I know how much it greatly improved my life that in my town there was a safe space to go and learn. It’s very important to me to create multiple places around the country and hopefully, even the world someday where people who are in impoverished areas can go and be safe most importantly, and also learn about the things that help them feel creative.
How do you feel the industry has changed from the time you started learning film editing to now?
William: Everything’s completely different since I began. I started making videos in 2007 and 2008, and at the time, the internet was so fresh. It was the Wild Wild West, you could do anything. Anybody trying to be interesting could be popularized on the Internet because literally, no one was trying when I first started. Now, everybody and their Mama is on the Internet, is on YouTube. There’s more competition and it’s way more saturated, but I think it’s also a good thing because I love competition. I always try to excel and be my best and if other people are also excelling to their best, it just breeds a better playground. I’m happy for where things are now.
If you could single out a person to thank for helping you get where you are today who would you choose and what would you say to them?
William: When it comes to people that I definitely have to thank for my life and where it is today, I’d have to say Dan Reiley, who worked at the RYSE Youth Center, I think he’s still there today. When I was 15 years old he taught me video editing skills, how to shoot on a camera, what auto-focus is, everything. I still use those skills till this day. I have to thank Dan for teaching me everything. My manager Rachel Williams, keeps me in line, makes sure that I do everything I need to do. There’s lot of people who have helped me in my life. I would not be me without the hordes of individuals who make sure I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.
Anything else you want to go OnRCRD?
William: I would like to go on record to say that I really do mean it. All these things that I’ve said, I want to do, and I want to achieve and dreamed for, my hope and my dream is I really do all of it.
Keep up with William Haynes on Instagram @williamhaynes
Photos by: Mario Barberio
Grooming by: Kimberly Johnson