Montel Williams Biography
Best Selling Author
Mountain, Get Out of My Way, Montel's autobiography, was his initiation into the world of publishing and established him as a New York Times bestselling author. That success galvanized him to create his own publishing company, Mountain Movers Press, which launched this year with the release of two books. The first is an inspirational quote book entitled "Life Lessons and Reflections". Montel is especially proud of this book and has donated all of his author royalties to The Montel Williams MS Foundation. The second book draws from his life experiences as a father and, co-written by psychologist Jeffrey Gardere, Ph.D., grapples with the contemporary challenges of raising children today. Both books are available in bookstores, or on this website, now.
Ongoing Commitment to Public Service
Montel escalated his commitment to public service this year by establishing The Montel Williams MS Foundation. A not-for-profit organization, the foundation will donate 100% of its contributions to three organizations specializing in researching a cure for MS. In an effort to increase public awareness about the disease, and generate donations, Montel, in association with Paramount Pictures, developed and produced three public service announcements about MS that are currently broadcast on affiliate stations around the country.
A long established activist for youths, Montel participated in the Teach For America Week program this year by teaching two junior high school classes in an underprivileged neighborhood in the Bronx. He spoke about "Life Lessons and Reflections" and about what each quote meant to him. Each child was given a copy of the book to take home.
Montel has been sending
his pro-school, anti-drug message to kids and teenagers since he began his
career as a motivational speaker. In 1996 he directed two anti-drug public
service announcements that were distributed by the Office of National Drug
Control Policy, in the Executive Office of the President.
Williams starred in the action adventure film "The Peacekeeper." He also developed and starred in "Matt Waters," a one-hour drama series that aired on CBS. In the series, Williams played a former naval officer who pursues a teaching career after the tragic death of his brother. Williams also appeared on the CBS series "Touched by an Angel" and twice on "JAG," as well as TNT's "The New Adventures of Robin Hood."
Williams has an exclusive first look development deal with Paramount Television Group. His production company, Letnom Productions, develops and produces projects for series television and feature film. Letnom Productions recently produced "Little Pieces", a romantic comedy. In 1997?, Montel executive produced Linda Yellen's film "The Simian Line" starring William Hurt, Lynn Redgrave and Cindy Crawford. Montel hopes both films will be distributed soon.
Williams made his directorial debut with the anti-drug Public Service Announcements he made for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, in the Executive Office of the President. However, last year he directed his first feature length film, "Little Pieces." A romantic comedy, "Little Pieces" follows three thirty-something women on their journey of self-realization. Indigo, Shane and Wendy are disillusioned with their marriages and careers, so they take a long weekend vacation in Los Angeles. Their escape from reality turns into a journey of self-discovery as they meet three men who change their lives forever. The movie is currently in its last phase of post-production and will hopefully be distributed upon completion.
Williams has received numerous awards and distinctions throughout his varied naval career. He has been awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, two Navy Expeditionary Medals, two Humanitarian Service Medals, a Navy Achievement Medal, two Navy Commendation Medals and two Meritorious Service Awards - the latter of which is rarely awarded to the same person twice.
The Motivational Speaker
As an officer in the Navy, Montel was responsible for shipping men to sea for up to 180 days at a time. Recognizing the strain this placed on them and their families, he began informally counseling the servicemen in his command and their wives. As a result, he was asked to speak to a local group of kids in Kansas City, MO where, in the charismatic, no-nonsense style that has come to define him, he addressed the importance of staying off drugs and staying in school. This marked the beginning of his career as a motivational speaker which eventually propelled him into television. Inspiring people is what Montel does best, which is why he still speaks at colleges and communities around the country. Recently, he gave the commencement addresses at Lehigh University and Western Connecticut University, and spoke at Florida Memorial College and Cleveland's Unity Day celebration.
Dedicated To Helping Teens
Those kids in Kansas City, MO weren't the only ones who were inspired by Montel's talks. After that appearance he received numerous requests from schools across the country and eventually gave up his naval commission to pursue speaking full-time. In addition, he reached out to thousands of parents, educators and business leaders, encouraging them to work together to address youth issues and to motivate youngsters to reach their full potential. Montel dedicates many of his shows to issues concerning young people today and was awarded The National Mental Health Tipper Gore "Remember the Children" Award in June, 1999. He recently sat on the "Panel on Violence" at the Democratic National Convention with producer-director Sydney Pollack and actress Juliette Lewis to address the preponderance of violence in the media today.
Montel & After-Care
The After-Care Program as we know it today was born in 1992 almost by accident. During a particular show Montel was so concerned for a guest's welfare that he promised he would get help for her if she allowed. At the time, this meant that a producer sat down with the yellow pages and called various facilities in search of psychological services. Well, Montel made that same promise to several guests over time and he realized soon thereafter that in order to help people the way he wanted to, he had to create a program that served guests when the show was over. Karen Derby, Ph.D. was someone who Montel's staff had reached out to in these early days of arranging help, and when Montel invited her to join the staff it was a natural extension of services she'd already been providing. Today, Dr. Derby refers several guests every year to drug rehab centers, weight-loss programs, psychological counseling sessions, family therapy, motivational camps and treatments for eating disorders.
Montel was recently honored
by the New York Psychological Services Association (NYSPA) with The Beacon
Award in recognition of being the first talk-show to establish an after-care
program and for highlighting the positive work that psychologists are doing
by providing counseling today.
In addition to the decorations he received throughout his naval career, Montel has been recognized with dozens of awards over the years. In 1988 he joined past honorees Ronald and Nancy Reagan and George and Barbara Bush, when he received the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Special Services Award.
Throughout the late eighties and early nineties he was bestowed with recognition from cities all over the country, including Albany, NY, Hartford, CT, Omaha, NE, Los Angeles, CA, Baltimore, MD, East St. Louis and St. Louis, MO.
In 1996, Williams won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host, television's highest honor. That same year, he received two other prestigious awards: The Crystal Apple Award presented by the New York City Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting for his outstanding contribution to the city's entertainment community and the American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT) Silver Satellite Award which is the organization's highest honor for outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the field of electronic communications. As a recipient, Williams joined a stellar list of industry notables such as Bob Hope, Walter Cronkite, Grant Tinker, Phil Donahue, Barbara Walters, Ted Turner and Jean Stapleton.
In June 1999, Williams received the Tipper Gore Remember the Children Volunteer Award from the National Mental Health Association. The award is presented annually "to a person who shows outstanding volunteer work in improving the mental health of America's children through outspoken advocacy and public education." Additionally, the Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc. (MHANYS) presented its President's Award to the show in November 1998 in recognition of the After-Care Program.
Williams was also honored with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Governor's Humanitarian Award on March 5, 1999 which was presented to him by New York Lieutenant Governor Mary Donohue in a special ceremony in Albany. The award recognized Williams' tireless efforts and support of positive initiatives affecting youth, especially for creating a greater national awareness of the need for the prevention of school violence.
Also in 1999, Williams was presented with a PRISM Award for alcohol and drug education when he received the Larry Stewart Leadership and Inspiration Award from the Entertainment Industries Council for serving as a role model to the entertainment industry. In August of that year, he was also honored with The Black Broadcaster's Alliance "Golden Mike Award" for his achievements in the field of entertainment.
With his diagnosis of MS, came activism for a very personal cause, and in the year 2000 Montel was bestowed with "The Man of Courage Award" from the Center Without Walls/Race to Erase MS.