Katt Williams Is Back on the Big Screen in ‘The House Next Door: Meet the Blacks 2’

Whether it’s sharing his very astute thoughts on cancel culture (“There’s no cancel culture . . . I don’t know what people we think got canceled that we wished we had back.”) or alleging that Cedric the Entertainer stole his joke for The Kings of Comedy, Katt Williams knows how to stir the pot. He also knows how to keep the box office interesting. In pre-pandemic times, a million-dollar box office weekend might not be news. But at a time when folks are still reluctant to go into physical theaters and drive-ins are in limited supply, the success of a small-budget film like The House Next Door: Meet the Blacks 2, the follow-up to the even more modestly-budgeted 2016 hit comedy horror, Meet the Blacks, gets top-notch industry attention from pubs like Deadline. But if you know like we know, Katt Williams is one of the main reasons for the film’s success. 

This time around the Black family has a new setting and a new threat, with the horror-tinged laughs coming in the form of brand-new neighbors who may or may not be vampires. Of course, Mike Epps’ Carl Black and Lil Duval’s Cronut are on the case to see which is true. At the center of the mystery is the eccentric Dr. Mamuwalde (an ode to the 1972 cult classic Blacula) played pimpishly by the one and only Katt Williams. Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross, Bresha Webb, Gary Owen, Michael Blackson, Matt Barnes, Danny Trejo and a few others also check in.

Speaking intimately with EBONY via Zoom, the Cleveland native, who first exploded on the big screen, nearly 20 years ago, as Money Mike in the 2002 comedy Friday After Next (alongside Epps), was far from controversial. Instead, he was very insightful and serious about his latest project. Asked why he doesn’t appear in as many films as his fans would like, he made it clear that lack of offers was not the issue. Instead, Williams, who won an Emmy for his unforgettable role as “alligator man” in the hit FX series Atlanta, is selective.

“I have a weird routine for picking movies. I don’t want to hear about the money part or who is in them first; I just get the scripts,” he shared. “I probably read 50 to 100 scripts a year. I’m just looking for a script that moves me.”

Believe it or not, he initially had reservations about Meet the Blacks 2 because of the talent they already had. “Anytime you’re in a project that has 10 other funny people in it, you wonder ‘what they need me for? They already have enough funny people,’” he explained.

The game-changer here was the script and his character.  “When I read the script, my character [was] not the source of funny for the movie. He is the straight man, for all intents and purposes, because he doesn’t understand that he’s funny. So it gave me a great opportunity to work on another well-written project, which is my favorite [because] they don’t just cobble a bunch of comedians together and expect it to be organically funny. It doesn’t work that way.”

Being able to support the Black production company Hidden Empire Film Group, an investment of Black billionaire Robert F. Smith co-founded and ran by Deon Taylor, who also co-wrote and directed the film, and his wife Roxanne Avent, as well as Mike Epps’ Naptown Productions, was also attractive to Williams. “It was a really good opportunity for me as a Black artist,” he said.

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An entrepreneur in his own right, Williams, who independently produces his comedy specials and his tours, has continued to be a major draw even through some high-profile missteps. In fact, his career as a stand-up comedian spans some 30 years. He attributes that longevity to his fans. “The way that people who have been able to have a good job for 20 or 30 years is because they’re great employees. They really care what their boss thinks and they really care what the customers think. And it’s the same in my business,” he explained. “It works well for me because I like my boss. I like who I work for and who I answer to.”

Respecting his core audience is a must for Williams. “The people that support EBONY are the people that support me, and it is a very great feeling to never to have to crossover in my career,” he said. “It doesn’t get you the biggest bag, but it certainly does give you a sense of personhood when who you’re representing is really the love.” 

And just in case you’re wondering, Williams has a Netflix special scheduled for release before the end of the year, plus he’s working on a tour. “We are confident that this summer and fall, we’ll be back on our regular springboard and able to service the fan base,” he shared.

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