Updated: Oct 3, 2019
Karlton T. Clay, the man and brains behind the web series “Lovers Lane“, “Lyon’s Den“, and “Karma“, spoke with Pressed in an exclusive interview. Clay shared his passion for acting, new production, award nominations , plus more...
Check out interview below:
PRESSED: Introduction please... Who is Karlton T. Clay?
CLAY: I am a 31 year old born and raised in Augusta, GA, where I still currently live. I am the oldest son of Pastor Kenneth and Sonya Clay. I have four sisters (two who are in Heaven with the Lord), a brother, a sister-in-law, and a nephew. I graduated from Davidson Fine Arts School out of Augusta in 2004. I also, graduated from Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA with a bachelor's degree in film and video with, a concentration in communications in 2008. I’ve always loved to write! I’ve been writing short stories and skits for all of my friends every since, I was a little kid. At DFA, I learned the beginning basics of production, camera and editing. DFA, is where my life changed dramatically. During my sophomore year at the age of 16, I was diagnosed with leukemia. However, it was during this bout with this life-threatening disease, that I grew closer to God and my family. It was during this time that, God showed me that I will truly have the victory over this battle. This is, where Victory Productions was born.
PRESSED: When did you start developing your passion for acting?
CLAY: My passion for acting actually happened on a whim... I never really wanted to be a actor, I was always scared of it. The fear of having to memorize all of those lines crippled me. My first experience acting was for a full-length play, when I was 12 years old at my former church called "Speak To My Heart" written by Angela Griffin. She asked me to be apart of it, but I was terrified. It definitely showed how horrible I was during rehearsals, I almost lost the part. She spoke with me, encouraging me that I gave a great performance. Even though I eventually had fun doing it, I did not want to do that again.
My second experience happened by accident as well. I was taking my younger sister Karmen to an audition at school, I also had my little brother Kameron with us. He was moving around and I told him to sit down. The director of the play heard my voice, and he said "You have a great voice” you should audition for this play. I was so nervous! This was around the time I was still receiving chemotherapy.
However, I conquered my fears, got the part, and I did two more plays with that theater company.
PRESSED: I see you picked up thirty four nominations for Karma, Lovers Lane and Ex-Factor this year. What's that feeling like?
CLAY: It feels amazing to have a total of thirty four nominations for the shows that, I've put in a lot of time and effort. It is always a great feeling to have your hard work recognized, and It also pushes you to keep going. It gives you that boost to continue to work towards that ultimate dream and goal that, you are trying to accomplish in life.
PRESSED: Name a couple of the awards and nominations you've received?
CLAY: We received sixteen nominations for Karma at the Rome Web Awards this year. Victory Productions has been blessed to be nominated and win the Rome Web Awards, since 2014. It is such a cool thing to be recognized internationally. The first year, I actually had the privilege and honor to go to Rome, Italy, to be a part of the awards ceremony. This year, we had three shows that were official selections for the Los Angeles Web Series Festival, a.k.a. LAWEBFEST; which garnered us 18 nominations. We won Outstanding Series Premise in a Comedy (EX-Factor), and Outstanding Writing in a Drama (KARMA). one of the biggest awards, the international award in which, KARMA has been officially selected to be apart of the Rio Web Fest in Rio, Brazil in November of this year. LAWEBFEST literally changed my life.
PRESSED: With being the writer, creator, director and producer of seven great series. What were some of the challenges you had to face creating these projects?
CLAY: First of all, I never imagined that I would be the writer, creator, director, and producer of 7 shows. To this day, that is still crazy to me. I literally feel like the Shonda Rhimes and Tyler Perry of web series. I find myself asking, Why did I do this? Then... I'm reminded of how much I love it when I finish a script. Also, when the actors and viewers tell me, how they appreciate what I do and how much they love the shows.
One of the challenges is making sure that each show is different. What's the point of having different shows if all the characters and situations are the same. Yeah! we may have some similar set-ups in some of the shows, but I also continue to use the same RELIABLE actors in my shows. However, my job as the creator is to make sure that our viewers can differentiate between the different shows. I don't want someone to watch BrothAhood and say, that this isn't nothing, but Lovers Lane the remix, EX-Factor, or it’s nothing; but a rip-off of The Lyons Den.
The production process itself sometimes allow my imagination to get the best of me. I forget that I have a very, very, very, very limited to nonexistent budget. I have to remember when I write, I have to scale down my ideas. I'm always trying to take it to the next level from season to season. I want to show our audiences how much we have grown and to give them a bigger and better story line. But like every challenge, we as a team and a family find a way to work through them. We have no other choice!
PRESSED: Take me through a typical writing session, is there a certain method when you’re crafting your series? What’s your method for writing scripts?
CLAY: I don't really have a method when it comes to writing. Well, at least I don't think so... It is kind of hard to explain my process. I have worlds in my head...Yes! it sounds weird, but that is the reality of it. I literally can see the characters and the situation in my head. Each show is compartmentalized, so that I don't get the characters or story lines confused. Once I see it, I just write down what I see. I literally just go where the characters are taking me, depending on what's going on or what I'm doing. Sometimes, it takes me a day or two to finish a script, and other times, it takes me a week or two to finish one. I write at home, in a waiting room, at work, or sitting at a red light. Whenever and wherever inspiration hits, I stop what I'm doing and I write it down.
PRESSED: Talk about the new series Bondage coming June 2017. What can your viewers expect?
CLAY: Bondage... Ah yes! Bondage is definitely a passion project of mine’s. We begin production of Bondage in June. Not sure when the show premieres yet, but it will definitely be this year. This is Victory Productions' first show that will be Paid Per View. I came up with the idea of Bondage, an I brought it to my friend and partner Nelson J. Davis. Nelson is one of the most hard-working up and coming actors out there, and I am grateful that he has allowed me to be a part of his journey. I met and spoke with him via social media during the earlier seasons of Karma, an we've been friends, and colleagues ever since then. He has become one of the breakout stars of Lovers Lane, and even though he has a vital role on that show, I wanted to create a show that centered around a character designed just for him. So after, I wrote the first script, he immediately loved it and wanted to be a part of it. After I finished writing the season, he agreed to come on as the co-executive producer with his company Film Architectz.
The character Maurice Bond (Nelson), is a recovering sex addict, so viewers can definitely expect a lot of sex. This is an addiction that you rarely see talked about and discussed on television. I know so many people who have to deal with this issue, and a lot of people try to dismiss it. It's a real addiction that Bond has to deal with. Bond is also a former male escort, and something happens to where he is placed back into that environment, where he has to deal with his addiction. We also deal with drug addictions, alcoholism, and other addictions that hold people in bondage. It's definitely a show that took me way out of the box, and I definitely crossed a lot. It was something I needed to do to tell an authentic story. Even though sex is a main component in the show, the audience can expect a lot of character development. It allows you to really get into the minds of these characters and figure out why they are doing what they do.
PRESSED: What advice do you have for aspiring producers and writers looking to pursue a career in your field?
CLAY: One of my words of advice would be to never give up. Sounds cliche, but it is so true... There are so many times in my life that, I may want to allow the hardships of what is going on around me, or the frustrations of being an independent content creator to cause me to quit. However, I have to remember that I have been given a gift. I try to imagine my life without writing and producing content. I can't! It's how I know that I was born to do this. If you can't imagine your life without writing, producing, acting, directing, or editing... Whatever it may be, then that is what you are destined to do, you can not and should not ever give up. Another piece of advice is to do the work. nothing in life worth having, is worth it, without working hard for it. Nothing in life is guaranteed, or will be given to you. If you want it, work for it and go after it. And lastly, make sure that you surround yourself with people, who are going to encourage you, and push you to be better than what you were yesterday.
PRESSED: “College Daze” was your first series. Tell me what was the process of putting it together like? How would you say you evolved since that series?
CLAY: College Daze is my baby... This show is my foundation. It's the reason why I am, where I am today. I wrote a one-act play called "Dear Diary," that was based on what my friend, and her mother was going through at the time. I submitted the play to the Black Theater Ensemble at Georgia State, and they accepted it. It’s how I met two of the actors, who were on the first two seasons of College Daze. After the play, I decided to do a short film version of "Dear Diary", where I played one of the characters by the name of Eugene. At that point, I decided to do a spin-off short film where, I took my character and put him at Georgia State. I got a few of my friends together to do this short. I decided I wanted to do a series, so I wrote the first season scripts. We had a college TV station that I wanted to produce the show for, but the station manager kept giving me the runaround. He never read my script, he just kept saying, "I'll get to it." I was discouraged... But my friend Lamont Johnson said, “You can put it on the web” and I'll build you a website. At the time, I knew NOTHING about web series, but I decided that this was a good idea. I put the first episode up on the website, and it was at that moment that my career in web series was born.
I definitely see the growth from College Daze, to where I am now, with my most recent production BrothAhood. I believe that the audience sees it too. I have tried to apply everything that I have learned over the years when it comes to production.
Even though, I don't know everything, I still have a lot to learn.
PRESSED: What can we expect from Karlton T. Clay heading into 2018?
CLAY: Well.... We are getting ready to go into production for season 8 of The Lyons Den, season 5 of Lovers Lane, the final season of Color Blind, season 3 of EX-Factor, and season 2 of BrothAhood. I will also be producing a short film that’s been two years in the making entitled Chosen, which focuses on super-powered humans. As previously mentioned, we will be going into production for the first season of Bondage. I also have two productions that’s being produced out of Georgia, “In The Nick of Time”, which is being filmed in New York, starring and produced by Rege C. Lewis "Chicago P.D." Boardwalk Empire and Blind Fury, which is a spin-off of Color Blind. It is being filmed in South Korea, starring and produced by Michael Anthony Coleman. Also, I plan on being on the road touring my play and still producing web series. I love web series and will NEVER let that go. I will be taking the steps in producing and directing my first feature film. A lot of people have been waiting on me to make that announcement… So,there you go!
Also, I am thankful for all the actors and actresses past and present who have been a part of any of the Victory Productions Network shows.