After visiting with Michael in depth and learning more about the struggles from his childhood I couldn't help but wonder what is the driving force that keeps a man pushing forward. What is it inside someone that allows them to go from angry to accountable, depression to dependable and from near suicide to success? In this post you will begin to discover some of Willett's perspective on these topics. I dug deep into Michael's past and he opens up about topics that may make some cringe at first, but then smile, as you learn that these struggles are what shaped the man you see now. And to top it all off, Willett kept instructing me, and making sure I got this message across to people "I don't want this story to come across being made out to be a victim and I certainly don't want people thinking I'm bragging. I simply want to talk about my story because I believe it has the potential to relate to many kids, teens, and even adults who may struggle with situations similar to what I went through. My goal is to help as many people find hope as I can, but if it only helps one, then I feel it is all worth while."
Growing Up In Rural Arkansas - According to Willett growing up in rural Salem Arkansas in a town of approximately 1500 people was both a blessing, and sometimes, a curse. Salem Arkansas is a cozy little town nestled in the rolling foothills of the Ozark mountains, near rivers such as the Southfork, Spring River and White River; and tucked away by lakes like Norfork and Bull Shoals. This small hometown community and surrounding area is known for some great trout fishing and whitetail deer hunting. Willett told me "I love my hometown and the people in it. I love to go back and visit my parents and other family members. I love to meet up with my old friends to go fishing, hunting and reminisce our childhood memories. And I'm all about a bonfire party at the river! You asked me why I work so hard, and what is my driving force. It took me a minute to nail down the answer, but looking back some of my first memories are working with my grand parents and parents, either picking up rocks on our farm, or picking vegetables in their garden (Which seemed like it was a football field long at the time). As a young kid I didn't care to much for that work, but looking back years later I see the value in it. You see those memories are what I have, and when you come from a place where there isn't a lot of money, you get out there and make things happen. See we picked up rocks so we could grow grass and raise cattle. We picked vegetables because there just wasn't money to go to the grocery store and buy every little thing you needed. I can remember working on machinery and tractors, hooking up hay balers, discs and plows. I can remember spending days sometimes just trying to get the lawn mower to start where nowadays people just take them to a mechanic, or even buy a new one. Heck we used to haul hay for $.10 cents a bail and mow yards for $10 just so we could earn enough to go buy baseball cards. Then in middle school my Dad decided we would go into the dairy business so most mornings he would have me up before school feeding my 20 bottle calves, and then after school milking and feeding up to 170 cattle. (Which at the time I mostly despised, but we did it) So to answer your question about driving force, I don't think the driving force comes totally from me, I believe some of this was instilled me by default because of when and how I was raised." From some points of view Willett's upbringing sounds like the perfect childhood, but some of the things he is about to divulge made me think otherwise. So I noticed when he stated that some of his driving force came from his parents and grandparents, and I dug in a little deeper to get the rest of the driving force. I asked Willett where else does this driving force come from? What else is there inside you that allows you to push so hard? Why did you start this interview saying smalltown living could also be a curse? Willett explained "Well being from a small town, everyone knows you and your family. They keep up with everything you do. That is when Willett began to open up about some of his childhood experiences and how they subconsciously affected him for so many years.
Strength From My Pain: So earlier in the interview Michael told us that living in a small town was both a blessing and a curse. Well it is time we find out what Willett meant when he said it was a curse. When I asked Willett what he meant by the statement he explained "Well to start everyone knows everyone, so as a young child because of dealing with some traumatic experiences, I learned to live two lives. One everyone saw as the happy go lucky, laid back kid, and the other angry confused boy who was ashamed and embarrassed on the inside. I was confused because I didn't exactly understand what had happened but I knew it wasn't right either. Dealing with a traumatic experience and the confusion, it caused me to repress develop an ability to almost lead two personalities. And you know the sad part is my parents still don't know about this situation today. Reading this article will be the first time telling them. I'm sure they just thought I was some crazy kid growing up. They didn't know a lot of these repressed memories are what I feel fueled some of my decisions later in life. Some of the not so proud moments."
As we talked more, about the situations early in his life, Willett continued to blow my mind as he explained how these traumatic situations are where he found strength from later in life. Stay tuned as we did deeper into exactly what these situations were and how he was able to move past them and create success in special effects.
In case you are just joining us and missed part #1, here is a link https://www.atlspecialfx.com/blogs/atlanta-special-fx-blog/who-is-michael-willett-just-another-country-boy-fx-world-thinks-not
I lived in Salem , I knew you when you were a baby … your mom and dad , your uncle tommy . I’m so proud of you … so so proud .