As a school that prides itself on being a Top Military Friendly School, the New York Film Academy often highlights its veteran and former military students who have shown achievement and success both inside and outside the classroom. One of our current BFA Screenwriting students, Wil Willis, has already succeeded in finding his way into the business, as he is now hosting the History Channel’s Forged in Fire. The competition reality show—in the vein of Ink Masters or Face/ Off—pits master blacksmiths against one another in head-to-head competition to forge from scratch a weapon that could win them a $10,000 prize.
Willis had been hosting a show for Discovery Channel’s American Heroes Channel, and the producers decided to test him for Forged in Fire. Willis tested well and the job was his.
Before pursuing a career in entertainment, Willis served in the Army as a Ranger, and in the Air Force as a Pararescueman. After fifteen years in the military, Willis found himself working on the set of a Broken Lizard production. From there, he began taking acting classes on the down-low, so his military buddies wouldn’t find out. His decision to step out of the box paid off.
“After acting in a couple films, someone asked me to be a TV show host,” recalled Willis. “I figured why not?” Life is all about adventure and having some cool stories to tell the nurses at the Veterans home.”
From an early age, Willis had a fondness for storytelling and movies — especially 80s B-Movies like The Beastmaster. Given his passion and his goal of obtaining a college degree, Willis decided to pursue his BFA in Screenwriting at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles.
In the process of learning how to properly structure his countless ideas, Willis recently finished a personal project titled Comatose Dad, about a veteran struggling to get his act together in the real world. In the script, the main character kidnaps his comatose father from the hospital and takes him on a road trip.
With his foot already in the door, Willis has extremely strong ambitions. “It would be an honor to graduate with the other guys in my class. As far as achievements go…I want it all,” says Willis. “No one comes into this business wanting to ‘just get by.’ I think you’ve got to want it all to get anywhere. And when you start making progress, you’ve got to want more and push yourself and know that you can do better and that you’ll only be as good as the last project you worked on.”