The Pensacola Comic Convention, Pensacon, was held February 19th – 21st. This huge revenue generating convention was mostly held at the Pensacola Bay Center, but also included events at the Crowne Plaza Grand Hotel, Saenger Theatre, and Rex Theatre. This year attendees were able to meet the stars of current and past TV programs and movies, play games, participate in discussions on making or acting in a movie, speed date, purchase memorabilia, take an acting class, and many other activities.
No disrespect to the actors of the popular Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, but Mr. Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, the football legend; architect; action hero; Playgirl magazine model; and the actor with a career spanning over four decades, was a showstopper. In a meeting room at the Saenger Theatre, a few of us were able to sit in the presence of this true renaissance man and absorb his words of wisdom as he discussed football, movies, and life.
When asked how he got his nickname, Williamson shared that it came about after being asked by the 49ers to play defense. Since the position was new to him and he needed to show his value to the team he resorted to doing what he knew best to stop other players, “I boned him.” The move prompted his coach to tell him, “stop hammering his players” and Williamson had a new nickname.
On acting, he stated, “Every project I do is my favorite because I have three rules that Hollywood has to adhere to. It’s in my contract. One, you can’t kill me in a movie. Two, I have to win all of my fights in a movie. Three, I get the girl at the end of the movie, if I want her. I have to get two out of three of those. So with all of the work I’ve done, I don’t regret any of my roles.” When asked about getting the girl, Williamson smiled and replied, “Pam Grier, twice.”
On his tenacity and drive, he shared, “being a black man coming up in the 50s and 60s, I never had anyone tell me what I could do. Everyone told me what I couldn’t do, even my family. Even my mother. My mother told me to walk around the white neighborhood to go to school and I didn’t understand that. I didn’t understand prejudice. What she didn’t know was, I was already walking through the neighborhood every day and they were looking and staring at me. Being the kind of person I am I thought they were just looking and admiring me. I was strutting every day. My motivation came from people telling me what I couldn’t do. Nobody ever encouraged me, so I had to make it on my own. I looked in the mirror and encouraged myself.”
His thoughts on Pensacon, “Did you see those lines? I think this is a successful venture. I think people come here because they can get here easier than San Diego. And by the time you spend all your money to get to San Diego, you don’t have enough money left to buy anything. I think this is a great event, a great venture. It’s not a good market for me because I’m a straight up action guy, hero type. I just come to let you see how good I look. I look like I can still do what I do in the movies and that’s really the key.”
What’s next for Williamson? He recently purchased a jazz radio station in Miami and plans to spin some jazz music for the next few months, “Music for Jazz Lovers.” At 78, Williamson is still discovering and conquering new areas.
Interestingly, after Pensacon completed their wildly popular and successful third year, an email was sent to attendees and posted on their Facebook page asking for support. In the letter, they state that despite their success management at the Pensacola Bay Center, SMG, has blocked them out of the month of February for 2017 and are compromising the future of Pensacon. They cite some of the complaints of attendees and ask their supporters to contact their commissioners and discuss their complaints.